Human Behavior, Wildland Fire, and Proactive Measures
Updated: May 11, 2022
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Rodeo-Chediski fire, the largest fire in Arizona recorded history until it was surpassed by the Wallow fire in 2011. Rodeo-Chediski began as two separate wildland fires that merged, eventually burning 468,638 acres, destroying over four hundred structures, and forcing the evacuations of multiple towns in northeastern Arizona. The scariest part of this fire, which is also a major variable in wildland fire mitigation, was that both fires were lit intentionally by humans. Rodeo was started by a wildland firefighter and Chediski was started by a stranded off-road vehicle driver, which raises the question – How are we supposed to mitigate the severity of fires when human behavior is so unstable?
There are no simple answers for this, but one mitigative effort that can be done is to identify and monitor areas of increased ignition probability on a regular and frequent basis, especially near the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), the confluence of human activity and nature. The Raster Report team specializes in this type of analysis near electric utility rights-of-way (ROW), providing two mitigative measures a utility can take:
Provide maps of precise areas of increased ignition probability near rights-of-way.
Identify specific electric transmission or distribution assets within the increased ignition probability areas.
Our analysis gives utilities an opportunity to prioritize inspections and repairs/replacements days to weeks before traditional methods identify areas of high fire danger. By repairing or replacing assets in danger of failure, the possibility of a utility being the cause of a wildland fire is reduced significantly, saving lives, resources and property. By trimming vegetation in and near utility rights-of-way, the severity of a wildland fire can be mitigated by eliminating fuels for fires to consume, potentially creating a pre-emptive fire break if a fire ignites in that area, or if a fire ignites elsewhere and spreads towards the utility ROW.
If you would like to know how Raster Report can help mitigate wildland fire through prioritized ROW inspections that supplement existing inspection cycles, please reach out to us and we will demonstrate our service for you.