Sunday, May 3, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Explorit: The science behind summer wildfires

Explorit LA Fire Nov. 2008 -1W

Helicopters help battle a wildfire north of Los Angeles in November, 2008. Lars Anderson/Courtesy photo

By
From page A7 | July 11, 2014 |

Summertime in California brings a lot of fun in the sun, but it also brings the possibility of wildfires.

Wildfires are any unwanted or unplanned fire that causes damage in a forest, shrub or grassy area. Occasionally, a wildfire can be started by lightning or another natural process, but nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by human activity such as a discarded cigarette or an improperly extinguished campfire.

Depending on the conditions, a wildfire can spread quickly, causing plenty of damage. Firefighters use the “fire triangle” to explain what keeps fires going. The “fire triangle” includes oxygen, heat and fuel — the three ingredients necessary for fire.

A fire needs each element of the triangle to keep burning. If firefighters can remove one element, they can get control of the fire and begin extinguishing it.

Every material has a temperature at which it will burn. That’s called its flash point. Wood’s flash point is 572°F. At that temperature, wood emits a hydrocarbon gas mixture that blends with the oxygen in the air and creates flame.

It takes heat to get wood to emit the right gases, but those gases also need the oxygen in the air. Each part of the fire triangle relies on the other two. And wood is just one possible fuel for a fire.

One way to control a fire is to control the amount of fuel it can access. When there’s nothing left to burn, a fire will have to die. You can help protect your home from wildfires by clearing a perimeter of several feet around your house free of dry vegetation. That will limit a fire’s fuel.

Heat is the element that allows a fire to spread. Heat dries out the moisture in potential fuel sources, creating a path for the fire to follow. One way to lower the temperature and help contain a fire is to spread phosphate fertilizer over the fire. That’s the reddish-orange stuff you sometimes see dropped over a wildfire from an aircraft.

Oxygen is the final part of the fire triangle. Air typically contains about 21 percent oxygen, but many wildfires need only about 16 percent oxygen to keep going. Fighting fires with smothering chemicals like carbon dioxide (an ingredient in some fire extinguishers) prevents the fire from getting oxygen and helps kill it.

According to YubaNet.com, there have been more than 27,000 fires nationwide within the past 12 months. And CalFire advises that with the drought this year, fire danger is high. But there are a few easy things you can do to help prevent wildfires.

Never discard a burning cigarette or any other smoking materials. Fully extinguish them before disposal. The same applies to barbecue coals. Never put hot coals in the trash; allow them to fully cool before discarding.

When camping, never leave a campfire unattended. Fully extinguish it with water and stir the ashes until they are cold before leaving your campsite or going to sleep. If you see an unattended campfire, call 911. Keep California fire-safe this summer!

————
Explorit’s coming events:

* Interested in membership? Think your Explorit membership may have lapsed? Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 to check or sign up.
* Don’t miss Explorit’s Aug. 6 field trip for fifth- through seventh-graders to the Discovery Museum’s Challenger Center. For tickets, search “Explorit” on brownpapertickets.com.
* The “Final Blast Festival and Chemistry Show” will once again wow you and your kids, on Sunday, Sept. 7. This event celebrates the end of Explorit’s summer science camp season and is a fun way to start the new school year.

— Explorit Science Center is at 3141 Fifth St. For more information, call 530-756-0191 or visit www.explorit.org, or “like” Explorit on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb.

Comments

comments

.

News

Breaking barriers: For Prieto, it’s all about hard work

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Council to hear about drought pricing

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

 
For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Peaceful Baltimore demonstrators praise top prosecutor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Nigeria: Nearly 300 freed women, children led to safety

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Graveyard thefts land three Woodlanders behind bars

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

Downtown altercation leads to injuries

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

 
Woman arrested for brandishing knife on overpass

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

Yolo DA launches monthly newsletter

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Can plants talk? UCD prof will answer that question

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

A Scottish setting for local author’s next book

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Video discusses surveillance of prostate cancer

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

NAMI support group meets May 10

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Dr. G featured on the radio

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Fee proposed on rail cars that haul oil, other flammables

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Indoor Fun Fly comes to Woodland

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Garamendi votes against energy, water development bill

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Free beginner yoga class offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Internships move UCD doctoral students beyond academia

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Make Mom a warm vanilla sugar scrub

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
The secret to Mother’s Day gifting success: Give time, not stuff

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Letter book is series of collected missives thanking Mom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
If your mom fancies something fancy, consider a tea party

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Out of Africa and back to Davis: James Carey will give special presentation

By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Big Day of Giving makes philanthropy easy

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Tuleyome Tales: How are a snake and a mushroom alike?

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
Tuleyome hosts Snow Mountain camping trip

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

.

Forum

With sincere gratitude

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
A wonderful day of service

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Please help Baltimore

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
End of life doesn’t mean life must end

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Advancing education for California’s former foster youths

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

 
Eyewitness to the ‘fall’ of Vietnam: It was not a bloodbath

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
Dangers from prescription pills

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

 
He can’t give it up

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B6

.

Sports

UCD softball splits with Titans

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Trifecta of Devil teams open playoffs Tuesday

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Defending champ DHS clinches a baseball playoff berth

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Making memories at Aggie Stadium

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: DHS boys win to reach lacrosse playoffs

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

UCD roundup: Aggie women speed past Hornets

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery

 
Pro baseball roundup: Hudson pitches Giants past Angels

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

Arcadia partners on soybean trait to improve yield

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Marrone opens new greenhouse

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
New firm helps students on path to college

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A8

Yolo County real estate sales

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A8

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, May 3, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B8