• WildfiresHuman-Caused Climate Change Increases Wildfire Activity

    The western United States has experienced a rapid increase of fire weather as the vapor pressure deficit (VPD) increases in the area during the warm season. New research shows that two-thirds (approximately 68 percent) of the increase in VPD is due to human-caused climate change.

  • WildfiresHarnessing Science and Technology for Battling Wildfires

    Catastrophic wildfires in Europe have become a far too common headline and this year has been no exception as the world once again bore witness to parts of the continent burning. While southern Europe is no stranger to the devastation and loss they leave in their wake, countries in central and northern Europe – areas that were previously not prone to wildfires – are now also experiencing them. Harnessing science and technology, researchers are proving that there is more than one way to fight and respond to fire.

  • WildfiresLoss of Fire Lookouts Spurs Questions About Historic Preservation

    By Sasha Starovoitov

    For decades, fire lookout towers have served as a bridge between the human eye and the surrounding scenery. These former staples of American landscapes are now facing rapid extinction. Decades after their prime, fire lookout towers occupy a precarious position between use and extinction.

  • WildfiresBringing the Power of AI to help Firefighters

    With $5 million in support from the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator program, researchers will bring the power of AI to help firefighters strategize how best to plan these controlled burns, as well as manage unexpected blazes.

  • WildfiresBig Fires Demand a Big Response: How 1910’s Big Burn Can Help Us Think Smarter about Fighting Wildfires and Living with Fire

    By William Deverell and Elizabeth A. Logan

    The aftermath of 1910 Big Burn in Northwestern U.S., the Rockies, and parts of British Columbia, led to bold decision-making in forest and fire management techniques and directives. Now, more than a century later, the 21st century’s big burns are a signal that things have gone terribly wrong.

  • WildfiresEvaluating Wildfire Hazard

    Severe wildfire disasters are often the product of numerous factors coalescing — vegetation, drought, a lack of firefighting resources, and many others. Identifying which factors are the most important is not always a simple task for local leaders assessing their community’s risk for damaging wildfires.

  • WildfiresPast Fires May Help in Predicting, Reducing Severity of Future Wildfires in Western U.S.

    Researchers analyzed 106 fires that burned in the Klamath Mountains in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon between 2002 and 2018, and concluded that previous fires may hold the key to predicting and reducing the severity of future wildfires in the western United States.

  • Cyanide detectionKeeping First Responders Safe by Detecting Cyanide Poisoning after Fires

    When first responders rush to a burning building to subdue the fire and save lives, it is not just the flames that are dangerous and potentially lethal, but also toxic fumes like cyanide that are released when certain materials are incinerated. These fumes, mixed with smoke, are so toxic that even in very low quantities may pose more risk than the fire itself. Chemists at DHS S&T have invented a test to indicate possible toxic cyanide exposure at the fire scene.

  • WildfiresDOD Imagery Information Aids Wildland Firefighters

    With continuing significant fire activity in the western United States this year, the Department of Defense (DoD) is delivering requested personnel, equipment, and facilities, to assist our Federal, State, and local partners fighting wildland fires. One of the tools provided by the DoD is the Firefly system pilot program (Firefly), a capability from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). 

  • WildfiresEmberometer Gauges Threat of Wildfire-Spreading Embers

    Wildfire fronts spread not only on the ground, but also from above, as the fire launching volleys of glowing embers, also known as firebrands, into the air. These specks of burning debris can glide for up to about 24 miles before landing. They cause up to 90 percent of home and business fires during wildfires.

  • First respondersSensor Detects When Firefighters' Protective Clothing No Longer Safe

    Firefighters risk their lives battling blazes, and aging protective gear can put them at even greater risk. Textiles scientist works with industry to develop a faster, easier way to detect damage from heat, moisture and UV light.

  • WildfiresFor Forest Towns, 3 Wildfire Lessons as Dixie Fire Destroys Historic Greenville, California

    By Bart Johnson and David Hulse

    How can people prepare for a future that’s unlike anything their communities have ever experienced? The emergence of extreme fires in recent years and the resulting devastation shows that communities need better means to anticipate mounting dangers, and underscores how settlement patterns, land management and lifestyles will have to change to prevent even larger catastrophes. Our research team of landscape architects, ecologists, social scientists and computer scientists has been exploring and testing strategies to help.

  • WildfiresFour Explanations for Why Europe Is Burning

    By Stuart Braun

    Barely halfway through summer, the area burned by wildfires raging through the Balkans, Italy, and the southeastern Mediterranean has already eclipsed yearly averages.

  • WildfiresDHS S&T Selects Two Industry Partners for Second Phase Wildland Fire Sensor Research

    DHS S&T selected two industry partners for the second phase of research on wildland fire sensor. The first phase research was conducted in June 2021, and the next phase of the program will focus on hardening the sensors for longer-term field deployments.

  • WildfiresHow Years of Fighting Every Wildfire Helped Fuel the Western Megafires of Today

    By Susan J. Prichard, Keala Hagmann, and Paul Hessburg

    Why are wildfires getting worse? Climate change is a big part of it. But, ironically, a chronic lack of fire in Western landscapes also contributes to increased fire severity and vulnerability to wildfires. It allows dry brush and live and dead trees to build up, and with more people living in wildland areas to spark blazes, pressure to fight every forest fire has increased the risk of extreme fire.