…It’s called a weed wash. This is the front line in preventing the spread of sudden oak death, a plant disease that is killing trees by the thousands along Oregon’s south coast. Tanoaks are the primary species affected, although there are dozens of the plants and shrubs that can be carriers. Sudden oak death has had ecological as well as economic consequences for the timber and plant nursery industries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has quarantined part of Oregon’s south coast to keep the disease contained. …But there’s another side to this story. Scientists are looking at the possibility that the wildfire itself could actually help control the disease within Oregon. That’s because the only real tool they’ve had to slow the spread of sudden oak death in the past is fire.