Fire Storms in Texas and the Urban Wildlife Interface

  Texas has seen its driest conditions in nearly a century. High winds, high temperatures and low humidity equate to a recipe for disaster. The fire in Southwest Austin on Sunday destroyed 11 houses, damaged 10 more badly, and scorched over 100 acres, according to the Travis County Fire Department. This was a rare occurrence in Central Texas, and citizens native to the area stated that this is one of the worst fire disasters they’ve seen in their lifetimes. Additionally, over a million and a half acres have burned in the recent West Texas wildland fires, and more fires are anticipated. The Texas firestorm weather is moving farther east, toward more populated urban areas less equipped to deal with wildland fires of this scale. Every year thousands of wildland fire ignitions occur throughout the United States and each one must be identified through select fire management objectives, where thorough knowledge of fire physics and mitigating strategies are essential. Most fires do not become an urban threat because they are managed by experienced firefighters. However, those fires that do get out of hand result in dramatic effects on resource values, property damage, appearance of natural landscapes and public outcry. The source of the problem? The urban wildlife interface phenomenon. On the edges of our cities and towns, there is a living, dynamic relationship between urban development and natural habitats. Human...

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