Specialists Challenge Fire Management Strategies in California

Specialists at UC Berkeley 'challenge the basic assumption underlying fire management strategies used to prevent wildfires' like the one that recently ravaged through Southern California.
March 21, 2004, 7am PST | Connie Chung
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"...treating extensive portions of the landscape to create a mixture of young and old vegetation is not money well spent," according to wildfire specialist at the UC Center for Forestry Fires Program at UC Berkeley. "The authors analyzed data from several hundred wildfires over the past century in an area from northern Baja, just south of the United States--Mexico border, up to Monterey Country....The authors conclude that an accumulation of older shrublands due to fire suppression would not play a major role in causing large wildfires. Rather, the impact of the hot, dry Santa Ana winds, which blow through California's southern and central coast regions every fall, is the more dominant factor." The specialists contend that fire management strategies should focus more on "creating defensible space immediately around people's homes and communities, attempting to fire-proof structures, and developing better evacuation procedures," as well as for urban planners to consider if building homes in high risk areas is a good idea in the first place.

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Thursday, March 18, 2004 in University Of California
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