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Planning for Wildfires

With spring just around the corner and temperatures thawing, drought-stricken parts of the country are under severe threat of wildfires, with many officials predicting an...
by | March 4, 2009

With spring just around the corner and temperatures thawing, drought-stricken parts of the country are under severe threat of wildfires, with many officials predicting an early fire season. Fire agencies looking for ways to manage fires more efficiently and effectively can turn to a new comprehensive guide. Working closely with the National Park Service, two Colorado State University researchers developed a system, known as STARfire (Strategic Treatment Assessment Response Spectrum and Fire) that provides guidance on suppressing fires that threaten life and property while encouraging the fires that play natural roles in the forest ecosystem. In the past, overly aggressive fire suppression has led to ecosystem degradation, beetle infestation and the accumulation of fuels, such as brush, that have had catastrophic consequences. STARfire can be used to quickly predict the potential consequences of a specific fire, but is primarily designed for long-term fire management and planning. By analyzing contributing factors of wildfires and other data that include smoke management, fire behavior, ignition spread probability, ecosystem benefits and losses, historic weather data and real-estate development, managers can develop fire-management plans specific to their regions. Also of interest, Google Australia created a Flash map to keep track of the deadly bushfires there and help reduce the traffic burden to those areas. The fires are being tracked in real-time with information provided by the State of Victoria's Country Fire Authority via an RSS feed. The numbers on the map markers indicate the number of fires at that location; the colors represent the current containment status of that fire.

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