While most people think of hundreds of acres of scorched Earth, thick clouds of smoke and fleeing animals when a forest fire happens, sometimes it's for a good reason. Several studies have shown there is some benefit when a planned fire is started. In the case of Giant Sequoias, the heat of a large fire is the only way they can drop pinecones and produce more trees. Fires can also clear the forest floor of leaves, logs and other debris so nutrients can be absorbed into the soil.
Officials in forestry departments are the ones to decide if and when a controlled burn of forest land is called for. Weather conditions have to be just right, and the fire cannot be allowed to spread too far or get too hot. In an average year, controlled burns can consume up to 20,000 acres of forest. More than one study has shown, however, that these burns have benefited the forest.