CHICO, Calif. - Chico's Fire Chief says wildfire potential is not large in Lower Bidwell park due to good fuel types and flat topography.
The two small fires in Lower Bidwell Park this morning have many wondering about the risks of it happening again and if homeowners along Bidwell Park should be concerned.
Steve Stanbridge, Chico's Fire Chief, says fires are possible in Bidwell Park but that they won't be as intense or spread as quickly as fire in Upper Park. Fire depends on three main factors: weather conditions, topography and fuels. The weather can always lead to a hazardous situation but the fuels and topography in Lower Park are good for fire danger.
"In the Lower Park, once it starts to get into the heavier fuels it'll burn those fuels. But we don't see the rapid rate of spread because the topography is flat. So we don't have the preheating of fuels we would see with topography where there is an incline and it preheats the fuels in front of it." - Steve Stanbridge, Chico Fire Chief
A varied topography would also funnel winds, maximizing wind speeds, increasing the rate of spread. So the flat terrain is a good thing to hear for those living along Bidwell Park. The fuel types are also good in Lower Bidwell Park. Most of the trees there are deciduous, not coniferous, like the trees in Upper Bidwell Park. Deciduous trees, such as evergreens, hold a lot of water compared to their coniferous counterparts. Greater water content in the trees that make up Lower Bidwell Park means they will be more difficult to burn. Fires can and will still happen, however, according to Stanbridge. Despite the higher water content in the trees, the grass will still dry out and will be easy to burn.
Stanbridge says residents along Lower Bidwell Park don't need to worry about entire neighborhoods going up in flames but they should still be on alert. It's always possible for a fire from Bidwell Park to get large enough to jump the road and burn a home or two. Stanbridge suggests homeowners clean their gutters, clear the roofs and maybe even replace your roof with a non-flammable composite roof to help minimize your property's fire danger risk.