From the November 2013 Battle Mountain News

Post date: Jul 6, 2014 11:57:41 PM

World Renowned Fire Scientist on “Fire Safety in the Santa Cruz Mountains” November 6

We are very lucky to have world renowned wildfire scientist Scott Stephens of the UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management coming to deliver a public presentation on “Fire Safety in the Santa Cruz Mountains: history, ecology, and lessons learned” at the Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council’s annual meeting, 7pm Wednesday, November 6, at Bonny Doon Elementary School, 1492 Pine Flat Road, Bonny Doon.

Professor Stephens' interests center on the interactions of wildland fire and ecosystems. This includes how prehistoric fires once interacted with ecosystems, how current wildland fires are affecting ecosystems, and how future fires and management may change this interaction. His work, though centered in California, has taken him to Mexico, Australia, China, and even to the halls of Congress where he regularly testifies on national wildfire policy. His lab's website is at

His presentation will focus on the Santa Cruz Mountains and will also touch on his observation about this summer's Rim Fire. His trenchant observations on that incident were recently featured in the New York Times Magazine. Please join us for this very special evening.

The Wildland Urban Interface Fire Trapezoid

Fire science is enamoured of shapes. Here are two familiar ones:

The Wildland Urban Interface [WUI] is not so much a place as a set of conditions that allow wildland fire to spread to homes and overwhelm fire suppression efforts. Instead of three factors, in the WUI there are four, and one of them is much more significant than the rest:

People are the most significant factor in WUI fires. Most wildfires, by a considerable margin, are caused by inattentive people. Conversely, by paying attention to the Home Ignition Zone [HIZ] where you live, you can prevent a wildland fire spreading to your home. With no significant precipitation predicted for the next 30 days, attention is critical. We are trained to offer free evaluation and consulting to homeowners on their HIZ, prioritizing the easy tasks on the way to minimize the threat of ignition from wildfire.