Chemical Controls Wildfires

Issue 8 and Volume 132.

Chemical Controls Wildfires A chemical fire retardant, which afterward acts as a fertilizer, was used to help extinguish fires that raged across Los Angeles County for three days during late October. The retardant, trade-named Phos-Chek, was dropped from helicopters and airplanes by firefighters. The chemical, which is manufacturered by the Monsanto Company, can also be distributed from ground tankers. According to Captain Ken Sigsbee,of the California Department of Forestry, the advantage of using the chemical was that it had the ability to penetrate thick grass and brush. “The canopy of brush and grass is much too tough for water to penetrate,” he said, and added that the thickeners in the chemical held it to gether and “allowed us to drop it into the brush at speeds of 135 miles per hour.” Phos-Check can also be used to contain “prescribed” fires and prevent fires from starting in public places, such as…

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