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Forest Foundation Estimates Angora Fire Released 190,000 Tons of Greenhouse Gases Fire's Emissions equal to driving 34,000 cars for a year



AUBURN, Calif - The Forest Foundation said today that the Angora Fire, which charred 3,100 acres near South Lake Tahoe, caused an estimated 190,000 tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere. The decay of trees killed by the fire could bring total emissions to 794,000 tons, putting the fire's impact on global warming at the equivalent of driving 143,000 cars for a year.

These estimates are based on calculations developed by the Forest Foundation that measure a variety of factors, including the acreage burned, types of vegetation, and the severity of the fire. "Few people realize the extent of damage or the overall costs when a wildfire disaster occurs," said Dr. Thomas Bonnicksen who helped develop the estimation process. He is a Visiting Scholar with the Forest Foundation, Research Scholar with Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and Professor Emeritus of forest science from Texas A&M University.

The Angora Fire, which burned from June 24th to July 10th, swept across dense forest on national forest land west of South Lake Tahoe. The fire killed up to 90 percent of the trees and destroyed 254 homes. The fire's smoke plume could be seen for hundreds of miles and degraded air quality for scores of California communities. The bum area looks like a moonscape of grey ash bristling with blackened dead tree trunks. "The environmental devastation and loss of homes is tragic," said Dr. Bonnicksen. "It is especially disheartening because this catastrophic fire was predictable and preventable. Managing forests can not only make forests safer, but harvesting trees as part of a scientific management approach can have a double impact on curbing greenhouse gas emissions - first by reducing the severity of wildfire and secondly by storing carbon in wood products instead of watching it fill the sky in tremendous smoke plumes."

In 2006, U.S. wildfires burned nearly 10 million acres and cost $1.9 billion to suppress. The fires were 166 percent greater in magnitude than the previous 10-year average.

The Forest Foundation is a non-profit organization that strives to foster public understanding of the role forests play in the environmental and economic health of all Californians. For more information, visit www.calforestfoundation.org


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