BLM Grant for Fuel Reduction was One of the Keys to Stopping the “Dry Fire”
The Yuba Watershed Protection & Fire Safe Council is
targeting fuels reduction along roads as a focus for fire season planning in
Yuba County foothills.
The Council’s partnership with the Yuba County Public Works
Department has resulted in the treatment and maintenance of fuels along over
40 miles of road to reduce the threat from vehicle fires spreading to the
wildlands. For an important
element of this program, the Bureau of Land Management provided funding
through the California State Fire Safe Council Clearinghouse for fuels
reduction along a six mile portion of
During the early evening hours of July 31,
2009, a truck traveling on
started at least 5 small road-side grass fires along the cleared section of
the project. The reduction of
fuels along the road slowed the intensity and spread of these fires.
Another significant factor in controlling the fires was a dozer line
that CAL FIRE constructs annually in a wildlife refuge uphill from where the
fires started. The fuels
reduction initially caused the fires to burn with a lower intensity than
would have otherwise occurred. Because air tanker operations must be
suspended shortly after sunset, the higher intensity fires that could have
occurred would likely have not seen significant containment by that time.
Map of Dry Fire (PDF)
Strong initial ground attack by the
Dobbins/Oregon House and Foothill Fire Departments along with CAL FIRE began
the establishment of strategically located fire lines. Immediate response
from CAL FIRE air resources then reinforced these fire lines allowing ground
forces to rapidly contain all the fires. CAL FIRE fire modeling estimated
that without the prevention work the flame length could have exceeded 20
feet (too extreme for direct attack by ground units at the head of the fire)
and the fire would have reached the top of Stanfield Hill in about a half
hour. Homes would have been
critically threatened and very likely destroyed.
There was also a significant potential for spotting.
This fire would probably have exceeded the capability of the initial
attack, requiring significant resource augmentation.
It is highly probable that this fire would have grown to at least one
hundred acres, destroying several homes. This is the third documented
instance in which a vehicle-caused fire did not become catastrophic because
of roadside fuels reduction projects in the Yuba
Fuel reduced along the Yuba County’s
Marysville Road slows the rate of spread of the Dry Fire
Roadside fuels reduction also provides
other very important strategic benefits. During a fire improvement in both
the evacuation corridors and in access for fire fighters and equipment is a
valuable collateral benefit.
Also roadway bare surfaces, along with the continuing commitment of the Yuba
County Public Works Department in maintaining fuels reduction along treated
roads, greatly enhances their value as fuel breaks during limited intensity
information contact Yuba Watershed Protection & Fire Safe Council
Facilitator, Glenn Nader at
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