Image: Bob Schowalter, 2003
This past weekend Gainesville, Florida witnessed one of its worst motor-vehicle accidents in recent times, and it was blamed on brush fire smoke and fog.
This tragedy raises an important question related to how we manage fire and fire risk in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI). Several years ago, former South Carolina State Forester – Bob Schowalter coined the word Linear-Urban Interface (LUI) to describe the fact that urban sprawl tends to occur along interstate corridors. In 2003 there was a research project known as the Linear Urban Interface (LUI) project that focused on urban encroachment and rural smoke management as it relates to main transportation routes like Interstate 95. The initial idea was to quantify and model the impact of smoke and biomass accumulation on these main arterial routes where communities interface with natural and controlled fire processes of the surrounding landscape. It would be interesting to see if there have been any further developments in this area of research, and whether a better understanding of this phenomenon is warranted in order to better mitigate this growing WUI or more specifically LUI risk.