Three years after the Black Forest fire burned more than 14,000 acres and destroyed nearly 500 homes, the skeletons of charred trees are a constant danger amidst a massive cleanup and mitigation effort aimed at being better prepared for the next wildfire.

“(The burn zone) still looks very much the same – a lot of burned, blackened trees still standing,” said Donna Arkowski, the volunteer coordinator for Black Forest Together, a nonprofit created shortly after the August 2013 fire. “Many of them are starting to break off at the top if there’s a lot of wind … they’re fracturing easily, which makes it dangerous for anybody who goes up and tries to cut a tree. You put a saw on the tree, and the vibrations may cause parts of the tree to come hurtling down on you.”

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