Camp Fire Renews Focus On Blaze Safe Homes Over Tree Care
- "Although wildfires initiate ignitions within a residential development, it's a home's local conditions that principally determine home ignitions," Jack Cohen, a retired Forest Service research scientist who specializes in wildfire, told E&E News.
- Wildfire experts reviewing aerial photographs of damage from the Camp Fire in California have noticed an odd twist in the landscape: neighborhoods reduced to ashes, surrounded by evergreens that are singed but not burned. In those spots, the trees didn't set the homes on fire. The burning houses almost ignited the trees.
- Ignition resistant communities provide an effective approach for preventing WU fire disasters without the adverse effects of intensive fire suppression.
- Chad Hanson, a forest ecologist with the John Muir Project in California, who opposes logging on federal land, said he believes the Camp Fire burned faster and hotter in areas that were previously logged. Money used to remove trees could have been better spent making homes safer, he said.
- Defensible space is a concept well known in the wildland-urban interface, as developed areas near forests are called. State laws in California mandate certain practices such as clearing flammable vegetation 100 feet out from a home. But federal programs don't do enough to promote fire-protected communities, experts say, even though wildfire can't be entirely prevented in those areas.
- Instead, the debate in Congress has focused almost entirely on thinning forests and removing underbrush, including logging, and easing environmental regulations to increase those efforts.