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Modeling the Likelihood of Crown Fire Occurrence in Conifer Forest Stands

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The unknowns in wildland fire phenomenology lead to a simplified empirical model approach for predicting the onset of crown fires in live coniferous forests on level terrain. Model parameterization is based on a data set (n = 71) generated from conducting outdoor experimental fires covering a significant portion of the spectrum of burning conditions associated with the initiation of crown fires. A logistic model is developed to predict the likelihood of crown fire occurrence based on three fire environment variables, namely the 10-m open wind speed, fuel strata gap (equivalent to live crown base height in some stands), estimated moisture content of fine dead fuels, and one fire-behavior descriptor–surface fuel consumption. The model correctly predicts 85% of the cases in the data set used in its development, and the receiver operating characteristic statistic is 0.94. The model is evaluated for its sensitivity to its inputs, and its behavior is compared with other models used in decision support systems to operationally predict crown fire initiation. The results of a limited test of the model against two independent experimental fire data sets for distinctly different fuel complexes is encouraging. FOR. SCI. 50(5):640–658.

Keywords: Forest fires; crown fire; crown fire initiation; crowning; environmental management; experimental fire; fire behavior; fire-behavior prediction; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; logistic model; natural resource management; natural resources

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Associação para o Desenvolvimento da Aerodināmica Industrial Apartado 10131 Coimbra Portugal 3031-601 Phone: +351-239-708580;pyro_, Fax: +351-239-708589, Email: 2: Senior Fire Behavior Research Officer Canadian Forest Service Northern Forestry Centre 5320-122 Street Edmonton AB Canada T6H 3S5 Phone: 780-435-7210; Presently Senior Researcher FGRIC Wildland Fire Operations Group Hinton AB Canada, Fax: 780-435-7359, Email: 3: Professor College of Forestry and Conservation University of Montana Missoula MT 59812 Phone: 406-243-6201;, Fax: 406-243-4845, Email:

Publication date: 2004-10-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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