FIRE: Yes, Properly Executed Fuels Treatments Can Modify A Wildfire’s Behavior And Reduce Intensity

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

Victoria Prescribed Fire, Black Hills National Forest. South Dakota. Photo by Matt Daigle, USFS March, 2021.

In recent weeks there have been discussions online about whether or not fuel reduction projects can aid firefighters by reducing the intensity of wildfires. These voices are coming from agenda-driven advocacy groups like the John Muir Project.

It is clear that properly implemented and monitored fuels treatments, whether prescribed or mechanical, can alter fire behavior and reduce wildfire intensity. This issue has been settled for many years, despite the efforts of these groups. This was something that indigenous people knew, and wildland firefighters have known for decades.

From an Associated Press article by Don Thompson:

Scientists say climate change has made the American West much warmer and drier and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive, accelerating the need for more large-scale forest treatments.

Critics say that forest thinning is essentially logging.

Leaving more space between trees and the forest canopy reduces natural humidity and cool shade in dense forests. This allows for unimpeded winds to blow fire faster, according to Chad Hanson (forest and fire ecologist, John Muir Project).

Experts agree that such reasoning is contrary to the laws of physics. Less fuel equals less fire. It’s harder for fires to jump from treetops to treetops when there are fewer trees.

In a tweet that linked to the Associated Press article, British Columbia-based fire ecologist Robert W. Gray wrote:

Another case of false equivalency: weight of published, peer-reviewed fact vs one or two counter factuals published in a single journal known for pushing pseudoscience.

During extreme weather and fuel conditions, such as strong winds and very low fuel moisture, fires can spread very quickly with a great deal of resistance to control igniting spot fires a mile ahead, and in some cases may burn rapidly through or jump across fuel reduction sites, possibly igniting structures. This can illustrate the importance of homeowners making structures fire resistant and reducing flammable material in the Home Ignition Zone.

But in less extreme circumstances, a fire spreading into a newly completed fuels project will be slower, less intense and more difficult to control. A recent example of this was when the Caldor Fire in Northern California began to reach the South Lake Tahoe area, allowing firefighters to attack the fire more directly. In a live briefing on September 3, 2021 East Side Incident Commander Rocky Oplinger complimented the agencies for the fuel treatments that had been accomplished over the years. He said the 150-foot flame lengths dropped to about 15-feet when the fire entered the treated areas. This allowed engines and hand crews to use a more aggressive approach to control the flames and prevent damage to structures. The video of the briefing is on Facebook; Mr. Oplinger’s comments about the fuel treatments begin at 34: 10.

Science” should never be funded by agenda-driven advocacy groups. It should not have been peer-reviewed. It is important to respect established science that has been proved for many decades, or even centuries.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. View all posts by Bill Gabbert

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The post FIRE: Yes, Properly Executed Fuels Treatments Can Modify A Wildfire’s Behavior And Reduce Intensity appeared first on dWeb.News dWeb.News from Daniel Webster Publisher dWeb.News – dWeb Local Tech News and Business News

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