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New Technology Tested to Fight Wildfires

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  • New Technology Tested to Fight Wildfires

    Crews test new ways to fight wildfires

    Experiment uses controlled burn to tame flames
    By Derek Jensen
    Deseret Morning News

    SKULL VALLEY — Anyone expecting a dramatic display of smoke and flames came away from this windswept portion of Utah's west desert disappointed.

    Fire officials test-burned 2,500 acres Thursday to observe the spread of a "wildfire" in hopes of finding ways to help slow and contain future fires.

    Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
    Apologies to pyromaniacs aside, however, fire officials here Thursday seemed pleased with the results of a prescribed burn designed to test the spread of wildfire. The experiment was the first of its kind conducted in the in the open under actual wildfire conditions. Developed at the Fire Sciences Lab in Missoula, Mont., the technique is designed to slow fire spread and allow a smaller number of fire crews to contain a blaze.
    "If we got a fire out here today, this area really would go. One crew wouldn't be able to stop it," burn boss Gil Dustin said before starting Thursday's experiment. The flat desert landscape he stood in was covered in cheat grass — a noxious grass which sprung up some 50 years ago and has overrun much of the slower-burning salt desert shrub that used to dominate the area.
    The past few years of large scale blazes around the U.S. has prompted a change in focus from fighting wildfires after they start to taking a more preventative approach. Instead of sending a whole armory of firefighters to battle a blaze for several days, experts are trying to find methods that will allow a single crew to control the spread of flames. The potential savings could run into the millions of dollars, fire officials say.
    "It's a long-term solution to our problem," Dustin said.
    The landscape is transformed by cutting away long swaths of the highly flammable and fast-burning cheat grass, then replacing it with a slower burning mix of perennial grass species, Dustin said. The swaths are called disk lines.
    "We weren't sure how it was going to burn until we did it," fire information officer Teresa Rigby said near the end Thursday's experiment. "In this case, it looks like the disk line is actually working."

    Burn boss Gil Dustin goes over plans with firefighters during a briefing before they start the controlled burn effort in Skull Valley.

    Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
    Crews began preparing the 2,500-acre area in the fall by building disk lines in four adjoining sections of land, each a square mile in size. The arrangement and distance between disk lines in each area varied, allowing crews to determine which arrangement works best.
    A control area without disk lines was also established to allow fire officials to compare the rate of fire spread under normal conditions.
    The difference was noticeable, even to the untrained eye. When crews started the first flames in an area prepared with disk lines, the fire spread slowly and put out steady but light amounts of white smoke.
    When crews started the ungroomed control area on fire, it burned quickly, sending thick, brown smoke into the air.
    "That's typically how our fires burn out here," Rigby said as she watched the thick smoke quickly spread to the north.
    Fire officials will now spend several days analyzing the results of Thursday's experiment. Theresults could mean a new method for slowing the spread of wildfires throughout the West.
    "It's going to be worth it in the long run because we'll be able to protect a lot more crews," Rigby said, "and not spend time fighting fires."
    Front line since 1983 and still going strong

  • #2
    Yes but how much work would that take, why not get goats to eat?

    Or even better yet why not get Thermo Gel, today I found out that the product barricade is not USFS approved. And we were told to take it off our trucks.

    Not sure why.

    Stay Safe,


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