BEND, Ore. (AP) – An Oregon State University project backed by more than $2 million in federal money could help firefighters better predict how wildfires behave in Central Oregon and beyond.

The Bulletin reports a team from OSU’s College of Engineering was chosen by the U.S. Department of Defense to spearhead a four-year research project to determine what conditions affect the way different plants and shrubs burn.

David Blunck, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and team leader, said the study, which is slated to begin this summer, could make wildfire projections more accurate and may ultimately improve the conversation regarding when and how trees burn.

Rather than focusing just on how different trees burn, Blunck’s team plans to examine how temperature and the presence of flammable gases impact fuel conditions.

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