Federal researchers are developing a system that would predict and measure a wildfire's destruction, akin to earthquake scales and other tools used for hurricanes and tornadoes.
The Wildland Urban Interface Hazard Scale, which is being created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is meant to help residents know how intense a wildfire burning near their homes is. The scale would range from E1 to E4, with E4 indicating that a location has the highest exposure to a fire.
A wildfire near Mountain Home, Idaho, burns sagebrush (black smoke) and cheatgrass (lighter colored smoke). Credit Michael Pellant/BLM/USFW Headquarters
The scale was proposed by Alex Maranghides, manager of the institute's Large Fire Laboratory, and William Mell, a combustion engineer with the Forest Service. The scale would be applied to forests, grasslands and other wildlands where homes are built.
The main purpose of the scale would be to allow city planners to create tougher building codes for regions that are at high risk for wildfires, said Nelson Bryner, a research engineer for the institute's Fire Research Division.
"If you're going to build there, then you need to use the following designs," he said (P. Solomon Banda, Associated Press, Sept. 24).
Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.
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