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Nations Leading Wildfire Experts Conclude Fuel Modifications/Thinning Have Little Effect on Wildfire

Hayman Fire Case Study
southwest of Denver, consuming 137,000 acres

United States Department of Agriculture
Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Research Station
General Technical
Report RMRS-GTR-114
September 2003

Case Study Leader
Russell T. Graham
Research Forester
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Moscow, Idaho

Fire Behavior, Fuel Treatments, and Fire Suppression Team Leader
Mark A. Finney
Research Physical Forester
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Missoula, Montana

Ecological Effects Team Leader
William H. Romme
Professor
Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Watershed Stewardship
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado

Home Destruction Team Leader
Jack Cohen
Research Physical Scientist
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Missoula, Montana

Postfire Rehabilitation Team Leader
Pete Robichaud
Research Engineer
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Moscow, Idaho

Social/Economic Team Leader
Brian Kent
Research Forester
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Fort Collins, Colordao

Results

Comparing the fire progression map with areas of fuel modifications reveals several striking patterns in the growth of the Hayman Fire. Most notable is the adjacency of much of the final fire perimeter with the boundaries of fuel-modified areas, suggesting that they may have helped prevent further fire spread. On the other hand, equally striking is the June 9 run over 60,000 acres that included several areas of fuel modifications with little apparent effect on fire severity.

The results of the quantitative assessment indicate that fuel modifications generally had little influence on the severity of the Hayman Fire during its most significant run on June 9. However, there was some variability among the different types of fuel modification, with prescribed fires and other surface fuel treatments that seemed to be most effective at changing fire severity and behavior.

Link to full study
http://www.angel-fire-blog.com/pdf/Hayman-Fire-Case-Study-Note-Part-3-Page-102.pdf

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