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The resort towns nestled at the base of the Smoky Mountains experienced their first—but not last—wildfires. Urging communities in the Southeast to get ready for a “new normal” has become a cause for UT geographer Henri Grissino-Mayer, a wildfire expert who has been telling residents to rebuild with the next blaze in mind.

The Daily Beast featured Grissino-Mayer in this story. Grissino Mayer noted that the kind of fires that devastated Gatlinburg – or that struck towns north of San Francisco in October—are more common in the drier West. But far more people live among the forests east of the Mississippi River, and they’re now facing the same risks their western cousins have lived with for years.

“If you’re going to manage lands and manage forests, you have to accept the fact that wildfires are going to become more common,” Grissino-Mayer said. “They’re going to be more destructive, they’re going to kill more people and destroy more property. That’s the bottom line.”