It sounds like a plausible explanation. The author points out that once a tree is killed by the beetles, it will lose its needles relatively quickly thereafter. He reasons that fires are less likely to spread on the ground because they can’t sustain themselves for long, whereas if they spread through treetops they could easily consume the trees in the surrounding area. Though I wouldn’t rule out the explanation because there’s so little research on the subject, I am a bit skeptical of it.
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