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Lab Spotlight: Rocky Mountain Research Station – Crown Fire Study

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September 10, 2013


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Environmental, From the Labs, September
Lab Spotlight: Rocky Mountain Research Station – Crown Fire Study


Research at the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station shows that the telltale red needles of a tree attacked by a mountain pine beetle contain 10 times less water than those of a similar healthy green tree, and these low moisture contents cause the red foliage to ignite quickly and easily. This red-needle lodgepole pine tree was ignited on its lower branches; the entire tree was quickly consumed in flames. The results of this work offer insights into the potential use of fuel treatments in beetle-killed forests, increase firefighter awareness of dangerous situations, and help managers identify areas at high risk for extreme fire behavior.

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