With wildfires causing widespread destruction in California, Montana and other western states, it’s understandable why officials have been investing in fire suppression efforts for decades. However, nature eventually must run its course—which contributed to record-breaking fires this year, according to a firefighter and wildfire consulting specialist. The fires in the western states were inevitable, said Stephen Creech, who responded to three firefighting assignments in Montana this summer for a total of 48 days. “What people don’t know is that these ecosystems are fire-adapted,” said Creech, who teaches firefighting certification courses at Purdue University. “Fire is a natural part of the system out here.” And after nearly 100 years of fire suppression across the United States, Montana, California and other western states were susceptible to fires, according to Creech. “Fuel feeds the flames,” he said.