Fireproofing can reduce the spread of forest fires


By David Landau

Published Aug 30, 2007 10:21 AM

Are you a Bruin living in or near the woods? It's definitely time for you to fireproof your home if you haven't already, say UCLA researchers in a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' September 4, 2007 print edition. And make sure your neighbors get the message, too.

"The spread of forest fires is not just an act of God," says Michael Ghil, UCLA professor of climate dynamics and geosciences and co-author of the research, "Fireproofing houses can make an enormous difference in whether a fire sweeps through a community or not..."There is actually more flammable material in a house per square yard than in a forest."

Fireproofed homes can dramatically reduce the chances of forest fires growing and coming into populated areas. Just having a few fireproofed homes interspersed in the landscape can keep down the probability of a fire from reaching a critical level. On the other hand, non-fireproofed homes can help a fire exceed critical levels in short order.

This is particularly important now, since a large portion of the U.S. is experiencing a long drought. And of course, it's absolutely critical in the West, where rain has been scarce and the Colorado River, one of the most important sources of water in the area, has seen almost a decade of record lows. All this dryness invites huge, quickly-spreading forest and vegetation fires.



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