Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Fireproofing homes dramatically reduces spread of forest fires, scientists find

Why do some forest fires spread rapidly over large areas, destroying and damaging many homes, while others are contained with minimal damage?

New research shows a major factor is whether homes are fireproofed — not just yours, but those of your neighbors as well.

“There is actually more flammable material in a house per square yard than in a forest,” said Michael Ghil, UCLA distinguished professor of climate dynamics and geosciences and co-author of the research, which will be published in the Sept. 4 print edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienes and is currently available online.

“It makes a tremendous difference whether you fireproof your home or not,” Ghil said. “Neighborhoods where homes are fireproofed suffer significantly less damage than neighborhoods where they are not.”

“Our study shows that fireproofing of homes is important not only for the houses, but also for the forest,” said Ghil, who is a member of the Institute of the Environment and the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at UCLA, with a joint appointment in geosciences at France’s Ecole Normale Supérieure. “We looked systematically for the first time at both the dwellings and at the forest. When you fireproof houses, not only do you help preserve those houses, but you also help limit the spread of fires to a much smaller area.”

Ghil and his co-authors modeled the spread of fires and studied data from forest ecosystems in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. They addressed both the houses and the trees in a unified way for the first time.

“Many people seem to have a fatalistic attitude and don’t understand that it really matters whether you fireproof your home, and whether your neighbors do,” Ghil said. “The spread of forest fires is not just an act of God. Fireproofing houses can make an enormous difference in whether a fire sweeps through a community or not.” As the density of non-fireproofed houses increases, the chances of the neighborhoods burning increase dramatically, Ghil said.

Many regions in the United States have experienced a long period of severe drought, which increases the flammability of the forest, Ghil noted. Other factors in the spread of forest fires include vegetation (if it is drier, the chances of a fire spreading increase) and wind intensity and direction.

Homes built in the hills, near natural vegetation or in other parts of what is commonly called the “wildland-urban interface” are very common in the United States and account for well over one-third of all housing.

Stuart Wolpert | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>