Fireproofing homes dramatically reduces forest fire size, according to new study

Aug 30, 2007
Fireproofing homes dramatically reduces forest fire size, according to new study
The size and intensity of forest fires is directly linked to the density and flammability of houses in the wildland-urban interface, according to a new study involving CU-Boulder researchers. Credit: U.S. Forest Service

A new study involving the University of Colorado at Boulder that modeled the spread of forest fires in Colorado and other western states indicates the size and intensity of fires is directly linked with the density and flammability of houses built in the so-called “wildland-urban interface.”

The study, which will be published in the Sept. 4 print edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that fireproofing houses in forests can dramatically reduce the size and spread of wildfires. Since houses are much more flammable per square yard than forests, homes that erupt in flames can propel forest fires to a critical intensity threshold much more quickly, said Patrick Bourgeron, a fellow at CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and co-author of the study.

The study, which also involved UCLA Professor Michael Ghil and graduate student Vassilis Spyratos of the French university Ecole Normale Superieure, used computers to model the spread of fires in forest ecosystems in Colorado, Montana Utah, New Mexico, Washington and Wisconsin. The PNAS study is the first to systematically look at both houses and trees in forest fire scenarios, said Bourgeron.

“The message here is that fireproofing homes not only preserves structures, but limits the size of forest fires,” said Bourgeron. “So fireproofing one’s home not only protects the people that live in it, it also protects their neighbors and ultimately the forests.”

Bourgeron said the U.S. government spends millions of dollars annually on forest thinning and the removal of excess fuel on the forest floor in an attempt to limit the size and intensity of forest fires. “But if the growing number of homes built in this wildland-urban interface aren’t fireproofed, it is essentially a waste of money,” he said.

Source: University of Colorado at Boulder

Explore further: Boosting global corn yields depends on improving nutrient balance

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Witnessing the early growth of a giant

Aug 27, 2014

Astronomers have uncovered for the first time the earliest stages of a massive galaxy forming in the young Universe. The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble ...

OCO-2 data to lead scientists forward into the past

Jul 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, which launched on July 2, will soon be providing about 100,000 high-quality measurements each day of carbon dioxide concentrations from around the globe. ...

Recommended for you

Drought hits Brazil coffee harvest

2 hours ago

Coffee output in Brazil, the world's chief exporter, will slide this year after the worst drought in decades, agricultural agency Conab said Tuesday.

Landmark fracking study finds no water pollution

4 hours ago

The final report from a landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has found no evidence that chemicals or brine water from the gas drilling process moved upward to contaminate drinking water at one site ...

Politics divide coastal residents' views of environment

5 hours ago

From the salmon-rich waters of Southeast Alaska to the white sand beaches of Florida's Gulf Coast to Downeast Maine's lobster, lumber and tourist towns, coastal residents around the U.S. share a common characteristic: ...

Earthworms as nature's free fertilizer

8 hours ago

Earthworm presence in the soil increases crop yield, shows a new study that was published this week in Scientific Reports. "This is not unexpected," says Jan Willem van Groenigen, associate professor in the ...

User comments : 0