Erosion Potential After A Wildfire


Assessing the erosion potential after a wildfire is an important step of post-fire management. Erosion is a natural process occurring on landscapes at different rates and scales, depending on geology, topography, vegetation, climate and weather, and is defined as the movement of individual soil particles by wind or water. Erosion is a function of the forces available, the amount of protection to the soil surface, the type of the soil and soil stabilizing components such as roots. It is usually …

Grass Seeding to Control Erosion after a Wildfire

Article Written by:
Yvonne Barkley, University of Idaho Extension, Moscow, ID

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Though not the most successful method, grass seeding is the most commonly used treatment to control erosion after a wildfire. Grass seed is applied to burned sites from the ground or by air with the intention of increasing vegetative cover on the site during the first few critical years after a fire and by doing so, decrease or prevent erosion.

Grasses are particularly suited for this purpose because their …

Wildfire and Water Repellent Soils

Article Written by:
Yvonne Barkley, University of Idaho Extension, Moscow, ID



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One common physical change to forest soils after wildfires is water repellency. Water repellent soils have a limited ability to retain or absorb water, which can result in increased erosion, altered substrate water recharge and quicker stream flow delivery with the increased potential for flooding. Wildfires create water repellent layers by partially volatilizing organic compounds in the soil that then condense onto cooler soil particles and form a waxy …

Selecting Firewise Plants

Firewise Plant Characteristics

Firewise plants have a number of characteristics in common, but also can vary considerably. Below are some important points about these plants and their management.

  • No plant is fireproof. All will burn in a very intense fire.
  • Firewise plants all have one or more of these firewise characteristics:
    • Tissues contain more moisture, especially during the fire season.
    • Tissues contain low amounts of volatile oils and other readily flammable chemicals.
    • Plants provide less fuel, either by producing less

Fire Ratings for Construction Materials

Article Written by:
Stephen L. Quarles, Senior Scientist, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Richburg, SC



If you live in the wildland urban interface (WUI) you have probably heard or read about terms which describe materials that are recommended for use on your home to improve its chances of surviving a wildfire. These materials are described using terms like noncombustible, non-flammable, ignition resistant, Class A rated and fire-resistant – terms that describe the relative combustibility of materials. Sometimes …

Fire Ratings for Roofing Material

Article Written by:
Stephen L. Quarles, Senior Scientist,  Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Richburg, SC

Fire ratings for roofs are classified as either Class A, Class B, Class C or are unrated if a roof covering cannot meet the requirements for any of these classifications. Class A is the highest rating, offering the highest resistance to fire, and unrated is the worst. Examples of a Class A roof covering include concrete or clay roof tiles, fiberglass asphalt composition …

Window Failure During Wildfires

Article Written by:
Stephen L. Quarles, Senior Scientist, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Richburg, SC 

During a wildfire, windows can be exposed to both radiant heat and direct flame contact exposures. Because wind-blown embers (firebrands) can travel up to a mile or more in front of the wildfire, when a wildfire threatens, windows will be exposed to embers. Therefore, the most vulnerable window when a wildfire threatens is one that is left open. Particularly with unscreened windows, embers …

"If in Doubt, Throw it Out" – What to do With Food and Medication After a Wildfire

When should food and medications be discarded after a wildfire? The rule of thumb is if in doubt, throw it out. When you return to your home, you should discard any food, beverages, or medications exposed to heat, smoke, or soot. The potency of some medications can be altered by exposure to heat, so check with your doctor before using any prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

Canned goods that are dented, bulging, or rusted or that have been charred or exposed …

Impact of Oil-Based Penetrating Stains on the Fire Performance of Deck Boards

Article Written by:
Stephen L. Quarles, Senior Scientist, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Richburg, SC

Oil-based penetrating stains are often recommended as one of a number of maintenance procedures to extend the useful life of a wood deck. Stains can reduce the amount of water taken up by the wood when wetted, the associated changes in dimension, and the amount of erosion that can result from exposure to sun, rain and wind. Stains can also contain a fungicide …

Wildfire and Its Effects on Streams and Rivers

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Wildfire affects streams and rivers in a multitude of ways, and the health and wealth of a stream environment are reflections of the condition of the surrounding watershed. Stream ecosystems are constantly changing and are often altered by episodic floods and droughts. Erosion is a natural process. Its effects on a stream are highly variable. Add a high-intensity wildfire, and conditions in the stream or river at the bottom of the hill can change rapidly. All of these naturally occurring …