Will Cal Fire’s plan to rip out vegetation in San Diego lead to an explosion in flammable invasive grasses?

Highly flammable nonnative plants have increasingly played a major role in Southern California’s struggles with wildfire — providing kindling along roadsides and around homes that turn sparks into menacing backcountry blazes.

San Diego firefighting officials plan to dramatically ramp up efforts to rip out vegetation, both native and invasive, surrounding remote communities as part of a statewide campaign to prevent tragedies such as the Camp Fire in Paradise.

However, environmental groups and scientists are now warning that brush-removal projects may actually exacerbate the risk of fire by inadvertently helping to spread invasive grasses, such as black mustard, star thistle and ripgut bromus.