House saved from fire in wildland-urban interface in central Oregon.
The Wallow Fire was the largest in Arizona state history; burning more than 539,000 acres between May and June 2011. Portions of the burned area had undergone fuel reduction treatments as part of the White Mountain Stewardship Contract following the massive Rodeo-Chediski Fire, which destroyed 465 homes in 2002. This management history gave station scientists and their colleagues an unexpected opportunity to study how effective two alternative fuel treatments were in reducing the severity of the Wallow Fire, particularly in the wildland-urban interface, a critical area on the landscape where a forest or wildland intersects with development.
They found that during the 2011 Wallow Fire, fuel treatments designed to reduce fire severity while still providing forest cover and wildlife habitat were as effective at protecting homes as the more intensive fuel treatments. As the fire moved from untreated to treated areas, it became less severe and transitioned from a crown fire to a ground fire. The distance into the treated area where fire severity was reduced differed depending on the intensity of the fuel reduction treatment.
The findings suggest that there may be multiple paths to fuel treatment design around the wildland-urban interface.