Arizona fire: Report says most buildings lacked brush clearance

Post date: Jul 19, 2013 3:50:10 PM

Here is an excerpt from a story in the July 19 2013 Los Angeles Times. Shows how creating defensible space saved structures. BTW, It's been over 50 years since the central part of Topanga Canyon has burned.


TUCSON — The Arizona city of Yarnell and its subdivision of Glen Ilah were not prepared for a wildfire like the inferno this month that claimed the lives of 19 elite firefighters, scorched 8,400 acres and destroyed more than 100 homes, according to a report released this week by a research group.

Using satellite images and mapping software, researchers at the Pacific Biodiversity Institute found that most of the 569 buildings in Yarnell did not have proper buffer zones — areas sufficiently cleared of chaparral, shrubs and trees.

Only 63 buildings had appropriate buffer zones — and 95% of them survived the fire, the group found.

It had been about 40 to 45 years since a fire had burned in Yarnell and it was due, said Peter Morrison, executive director of the institute, which is based in Washington state.

“What happened there was totally predictable,” he said. “It was totally normal from an ecological perspective. We need to acknowledge that it was going to happen. It was inevitable.”


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