About the project:
Wildfires have increased in intensity and frequency over the last decade. In addition, the wildland urban interface (WUI) land use is the fastest growing land use in the US, with almost 1/3 of the US population living in a WUI. As such, recent wildfires have caused catastrophic damage to civil infrastructure, and engineers and fire scientists must develop solutions for WUI communities to be resilient.

In particular, recent fires in California have caused significant damage to water distribution systems. Both the 2017 Tubbs Fire and the 2018 Camp Fire caused damage to the water distribution systems in Santa Rosa and Paradise, respectively, which resulted in contaminated water within the system. The fires heated the service pipeline materials thereby causing contaminates (Benzene and other VOCs) to migrate from the pipe materials into the water and negative pressure due to homes burning caused backflow of soot and ash into the water distribution system. However, there are no current solutions to this behavior.

Data analyzed by the research team has shown that the density of damaged residential homes is a pseudo-indicator for contaminated water samples after a WUI wildfire. This research will be expanded in the coming years to investigate if certain service line pipe materials are vulnerable to elevated temperatures, develop a sensor that indicates a critical temperature for vulnerable pipe materials, and how communities can synthesize layers of data (including the data from the sensors) together to inform communities of the extent of damage after a WUI wildfire.

How to contact us:
If you are interested in learning more about this project, receiving quarterly updates, or participating in our stakeholder meetings, please fill out this form. For additional questions, please email Erica Fischer: erica.fischer@oregonstate.edu

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