Wildfire exhibit puts visitors in a room of screens and fire

Climate change studied along with fire history

A specially made box has held a camera to document wild land fires for a new Santa Barbara exhibit. (John Palminteri/

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Experiencing a wildland fire from the middle of the burn zone is something few people will ever see, hear or feel.

There's a new exhibit in Santa Barbara that is doing that and adding features to help the public and scientists understand a variety of fire behavior changes.

It is set up at the Community Arts Workshop on Garden Street at Ortega.   It is the same location where the Summer Solstice preparations are taking place.

Saturday afternoon from 1 p.m. to  4 p.m. there will be a special program beyond the exhibit with fire crews, fire extinguisher demonstrations and some real-life stories about our fire behavior locally.

The project director  Ethan Turpin has been using a specially made firebox that holds a camera.   

It is placed inside a fire zone to record an advancing fire and its patterns.

"It has two panes of oven glass and stainless steel to protect the cameras," said Turpin.

It is also used on prescribed burns where the fire is preplanned by firefighters.

Those images are on screens in the exhibit along with the sound.

The exhibit is called the Burn Cycle Project, with a Walk into  Wildlife exhibit.

One aspect allows the temperature of the fire information to be changed based on past fires.  With climate change warming the same fires were have experienced are adjusted to react to a warming pattern to assist with research on behavior.

You can also see where a fire is seeking oxygen to move along a landscape.

The exhibit will be open until April 20.   It is free for the public.

It is being coordinated with the UC Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.   

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