Global Wildfire Scientists Discuss Management Strategies - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Global Wildfire Scientists Discuss Management Strategies

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MISSOULA - More than 600 fire scientists from around the world have gathered at the University of Montana in Missoula this week to discuss the growing trend of large-scale wildfires.

"It's clear, the trend is that there's more frequent large-scale wildfires in the tens of thousands of acres," said Co-director of the Association for Fire Ecology Timothy Ingalsbee.

Ingalsbee said large wildland fires, or "megafires," are igniting in areas across the globe, including Montana in recent years.

"Climate change is a major driver of wildland fires, there's also abundant, excessive vegetation accumulated from past firefighting," he explained.

Ingalsbee said fire scientists are working to combat larger, and often more severe wildfires with new kinds of fire retardant, camera systems for spotting smoke plumes, and even aeronautic technology to monitor wildfires.

"It's been a renaissance of fire science and technology that is really enabling us to monitor fires in near time or real time."

Ingalsbee said global experts are working to maximize the ecological benefits of wildfires, while minimizing the negative social impacts, like loss of life or property.

"Some species of wildlife or vegetation depend on the effects of fire," Ingalsbee said.

He added, wildfires can help generate new vegetation by burning through old growth.

"It doesn't destroy acres, it transforms the land."

The Lolo Creek Complex burned through nearly 11,000 acres last summer, and the West Mullan fire burned more than 6,300 acres near Superior.

The large wildland fires conference continues through Thursday, and includes presentations at UM's campus and field trips to previous wildfire locations near Missoula.
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