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Feds developing 'Richter' scale for wildfires

DENVER (AP) - Earthquakes can be measured, so why not wildfires?

Federal researchers are working on the answer, and their system to measure and predict the destructiveness of wildfires is similar to the way earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes are gauged.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology hopes its Wildland Urban Interface Hazard Scale will tell residents the likely intensity of a wildfire burning into their neighborhood. The scale would allow city planners to assign better building codes for the millions of people who live in fire-prone areas in the West and would also measure how those homes could contribute to the spread of a fire.

The proposed scale would range from E1 to E4 - with E4 being a location's highest exposure to fire.

Researcher Nelson Bryner says the scale is primarily meant to form the technical foundation for tougher building codes for high-risk areas.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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