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Wildfires Move Fast And Pose Serious Threat To Lives, Property

April 26, 2011 by  

Wildfires move fast and pose serious threat to lives, propertyWildfires can create a nightmare scenario for property owners, especially Americans who run a ranch or farm. Not only does this phenomenon pose a life-threatening situation to humans, it can also ravage one's crops and animal population.

For example, Justin Cormack, a rancher in Texas, has lost 30 of his cattle, or 15 percent of his herd, due to recent wildfires, CNN reported. This month, wildfires have burned more than 1 million acres of land and hundreds of homes in the Lone Star State.

The recent events in Texas have prompted many Americans to consider self-survival in the event of a fast-spreading fire. According to Popular Mechanics, residents should collect their personal belongings and evacuate their property once they are alerted about an approaching fire.

However, if someone's home is surrounded by trees that are engulfed in flames, it is wise to remain indoors and avoid navigating through the wildland fire. The news source recommends that residents should shut all of their windows to prevent flying embers from entering the home.

Furthermore, individuals should shut off their gas or propane lines, but keep the water and electricity on. The water can be useful in staying hydrated in sweltering conditions, and it may also be used by firefighters to combat the flames.

Los Angeles County firefighter Fred Stowers told the media outlet that by keeping all of the home's lights on at night, emergency responders can distinguish between roaring flames and drifting smoke.  

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  • coal miner
    • coal miner

      ScienceDaily (Mar. 28, 2011) — Texas Agrilife Research fire and brush control studies in the Rolling Plains on a working ranch-scale showed the benefits and limitations of managed fires for reducing mesquite encroachment while sustaining livestock production.
      Dr. Richard Teague, AgriLife Research rangeland ecology and management scientist, along with colleagues Dr. Jim Ansley, brush ecologist, and Dr. Bill Pinchak, animal nutritionist, spent more than 10 years trying to determine how effective prescribed fire could be in reducing mesquite and cactus on the Waggoner Ranch south of Vernon.

      Three major conclusions of the study were:fire is effective only at low levels of mesquite encroachment; 12 percent of the unit must be burned each year; and stocking rates should be light — 12 percent lower than the “moderate”Natural Resources Conservation Service level for the range type and range condition, Teague said.

      To determine the potential of fire to reduce brush and prickly pear and how to manage the fire for maximum effectiveness, they looked at: effect of brush abundance on forage production and composition; how quickly the brush and cactus increased; treatment longevity; effect of grazing management on grass production and animal performance; and economic returns.

      To ensure effective burns, it is necessary to have approximately 2,000 pounds of fuel per acre for each burn, Teague said. In an area where plant growth and rainfall vary each year, it’s most important to choose a stocking rate that allows for sufficient buildup of fuel.

      Rotational grazing systems provide sufficient grass fuel and continuity of fuel for the fire to be effective and for adequate post-fire grass recovery, he said.

      With three experimental treatments and two replications covering an area of about 34,000 acres, the study was started in 1995 with Hereford cow-calf herds of the same age composition at moderate stocking rates. Treatment areas ranged from 3,000-5,000 acres and three rotational grazing systems were compared under continuous grazing.

      “Fire is by far the least expensive means of reducing brush, and it should be used whenever possible to minimize the use of more expensive treatments,” Teague said. “But our study suggests that fire can be used only for maintenance of low mesquite cover.”

      The mesquite cover studied doubled to 40 percent coverage in seven years — more than expected — and resulted in a significant decrease in forage production, Teague said.

      “At that rate of increase of mesquite, if a manager starts using fire at greater than 15 percent brush cover in the first area to be treated, by the time four to five years have elapsed the brush cover would have increased to 30 to 40 percent in the areas still to be burned,” he said. “This is far too high for fire to be effective.”

      Teague said for lowest-cost brush reduction, burning must be done regularly at six to seven year intervals.

      “At levels of mesquite above 15 to 20 percent, something more expensive like root-killing herbicides is needed to restore the productivity of the rangeland,” he said. “Where mesquite cover is low enough to use fire effectively, the use of fire as a follow-up to herbicide treatment would be economically superior to using herbicide with no follow-up burn.”

      If the mesquite cover is 30 percent or higher, forage and fuel levels are reduced so fire is less effective in reducing mesquite, Teague said. Also, with this amount of mesquite, winter grass becomes more abundant than summer grass. And because winter grasses are usually green at that time, the winter fire effectiveness is further reduced.

      “This can be offset partially by burning in late summer, since summer fires are more effective in reducing both mesquite and prickly pear, and in summer, the winter grasses are dry and provide excellent fuels,” Teague said.

      Using a rotational grazing strategy to rest areas for an entire growing season allowed the best fuel load for the precipitation received and improved the litter and grass cover, he said. This reduced soil temperature, runoff and erosion, and increased soil carbon. Post-fire deferment also is needed to ensure adequate recovery of palatable grasses and litter cover.

      Ranchers know that failure to maintain low levels of mesquite populations in pastures results in decreased livestock carrying capacity and increases the dependence on more expensive restoration practices, as well as increases the ecological impact, Teague said.

      “With fire being so much less expensive than alternative treatments, our economic assessments indicate that stocking rates can be lowered by 25 percent and still be economically competitive with alternative brush treatments as long as fire is used regularly,” he said.

  • barbm

    all ponds and other water sources on the ranches are polluted, there’s no food for the cattle and, unless it rains very soon, there won’t be forage before winter. when we have droughts, wisconsin and other northern states usually send us hay. we reciprocate when they have droughts or floods. with all the flooding this year, there may not be any help. watch beef prices go sky high. nobody wants to talk on here, but they’ll be concerned when they next ask, “where’s the beef” and we answer burned on the range. there is no money from the state or feds to reimburse volunteer fire companies for their expenses, so we’re asking for donations. maybe if all those ranchers were hispanic or black like the folks in new orleans were, we’d be getting some help here. oops, played the race card. oh well, just saying….

    • meteorlady

      You are exactly right. No money for fire to protect us. Just handouts to the people that sit on their bottoms and collect whatever they can.

    • granny mae


      Go ahead and play the race card Woopy did so the game is on! I have never seen anyone play the race card like Obama ! Are there places set up for donations? Obama is promising everything to these poor people hit by the tornados but wait till they find that it doesn’t show up because there is no money Obama sent it all to other countries !

      • granny mae

        Also, I’m looking at things this way, between the fires in Texas and the floods, flooding farm land and the tornados tearing up six states and the possibility of hurricanes this year, If people don’t do some stocking up they are nuts. I don’t see anything but difficult times a coming very soon. Better prepare for hard times of any kind and it will usually be the kind that you never thought of ! People will laugh at you for getting ready for the so called coming insurection because they don’t think any of that is possible , consequently they won’t prepare so when drought and fire and floods cause a food shortage they won’t be prepared but you will. Now who is laughing ? Also put food by for as long as you possibly can because you don’t know how long this is going to last ! A week, a month, how about two years ?

  • 45caliber

    One of the problems are the careless people. Too many people throw a burning cigarette out the window of their car without thinking. If you drive down the freeway in most dry areas you will see a spot or two where such fires were set that way. Luckily, you can usually get those fires out early since people can drive to them and they get reported promptly. The ones in the country are another story.

    And if I see anyone deliberately setting a fire, I’ll shoot him if I have a gun along. Once you’ve been in such fires you NEVER want one to start again!

    • granny mae


      You are so right. It seems like yesterday we were having fires down here in Florida. It was like the world was on fire. One person I heard of said they hadn’t been worried about their house burning because it was a cement block house with a metal roof, then when they got to go back in to see their place it was gutted. It seems the fire got so hot outside the house that the curtains and lamp shade on the lamp caught fire on the inside of the house and everything was a total loss ! We were surrounded by fires for the whole summer. Who ever thought that Florida could have a drought ? When we did get a little rain there was so much lightening that more fires started, then there was an area in our town that was muck, and it caught fire so now we had fires that they couldn’t put out till they burned out, that was a real bummer cause that fire burned for a couple years. It just smoldered and smoked and it was awful ! My heart is with all those that are suffering with the fires, I know what that is like. Even if you are in an area that isn’t burning you will still suffer from the smoke and the nights are the worst because that is when the wind dies down and the smoke settles on the houses. Makes it real hard to breath !

  • meteorlady

    So every single time I go out in the car there is someone smoking and flipping their butts and ashes out the window. I have even seen motorcyclists take off while smoking. Nice…. most fires I see here in Texas start at the sides of roads which tells me that smokers are probably mostly to blame for our fires.

    I would love to be able to put stickers on cars belonging to drivers that do this. It makes me sick to see it happen.

  • http://com i41

    Does anyone know who owned the land that is being burnt. Is it federal controlled land, private land put in the CPR land programs for wildlife and senic wild game raising, or is pretty much private owned land? The land that has been in the on the government welfare CRP programs has been cleaned off or intensely grazed in over 30 years, if anyone has ever tried to stop a fire in this government created mess, wheather started by weather or man, hasn’t seen hot. Yellowstone was a prime example of over educated dumb beltway bastards at the helm. In Mt. we have seen just how the f–king enviors have screwed up grasslands and forest with not harvesting the grassses and timber.

  • barbm

    the land is privately owned. one of the fires was begun by a camper who went off to buy beer and left his camp fire burning, and the other was started by a dumbass welder. cigarettes now have a chemical added to them to make them go out quickly. with the land as dry as it is, i don’t know that it’s enough to stop a fire starting. i throw my butts out, but i put them out first, then i hold them with my fingers to make sure they’re out or i get burned. i hate that the trees and homes are burned, and the 2 firefighters who died shouldn’t have been put in danger, but it’s the poor little animals who had no way to get out that gives me nightmares. and it’s spring, so all the babies burned to death.

    • granny mae


      That just breaks your heart doesn’t it?

  • cowtrax

    the texas fires is awful. lots of livestock being moved, $5/g fuel.wait till june in the mtn west &see what the treehuggers &incompetant federal forest circus use for excuse.we are only grazing 30% of the forage &the trees are sick from being so crowded.200-300 ton/acre fuel load.we’ll spend billions fighting fires again on landthat used to provide 1000s of jobs that is now wasted & we’ll buy foreign lumber to REbuild the burned homes.REnewable REsources- use em or lose em. i wonder what RE means?

  • coal miner

    9The key, scientists say, is tapping into the capability of ferromagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles -extraordinarily tiny pieces of rust. The use of such particles in the new system can not only detect chemicals with sensitivity and selectivity, but they can be incorporated into a system of integrated circuits to instantly display the findings.


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