High intensity fire burns for researchers
Sept. 13, 2013, Carrott Lake, B.C. - Controlled forest fires have been burning for two days in Mountain Pine Beetle ravaged forests near Vanderhoof, B.C. The Carrott Lake Mountain Pine Beetle Experimental Fire Study is a project that will test how fire behaves in forests that have been killed by the mountain pine beetle. It is being conducted by the B.C. Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada - Canadian Forest Service and other research partners. CFI was able to reach a Fire Science Manager on the phone to see how the burns are progressing.
Eleven research plots, ranging in size from one to four hectares, have been prepared for the experiment. Each plot has been set up with fireguards, sprinklers and fire retardants and fire fighters have been on hand to prevent the fire from escaping.
The first plots were burned in 2006 but the experiment was delayed until this year due to weather conditions that would have made the controlled burns too risky. New fires were lit a couple days ago and have been providing plenty of data for researchers to comb through as the high intensity fires continue to burn.
Daniel Perrakis, Fire Science Manager for the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, was able to share some initial observations from the fires. He noted that spread rates are lower than five years ago because the crowns have lost the foliage that would have kept the crowns burning longer and made it easier for the fire to spread among the treetops. Perrakis noted that fire spreads more quickly during the red phase - this occurs about one year after the infestation and can last two to four years before the trees turn grey as they lose their needles.
The researchers will gather data as the fires burn and once the fires are out. Perrakis expects to take a year to complete the study.