The 1985 Butte fire in central Idaho: a Canadian perspective on the associated burning conditions
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): Martin E. Alexander
Editor(s): Stephen C. Nodvin; Thomas A. Waldrop
Publication Year: 1991

Cataloging Information

  • Butte Fire
  • CFFDRS - Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System
  • FFMC - CFFDRS Fine Fuel Moisture Code
  • FWI - CFFDRS Fire Weather Index System
  • head fire
  • Idaho
  • ignition potential
  • ISI - CFFDRS Initial Spread Index
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Record Last Modified: March 27, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 10931


During the afternoon of August 29, 1985, the Butte Fire made a high-intensity crown fire run, covering a distance of 2.22 km in one hour and 40 minutes, and forcing 73 fire fighters to deploy their protective fire shelters. This paper presents a retrospective analysis of the fire behavior in terms of the two major subsystems of the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System. The fuel moisture code. (FFMC 94.6, DMC 172, DC 744) and fire behavior indexes (lSI 22.5, BUI 218, FWI 65) of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System were indicative of extreme fire behavior and ignition potential. The predictions of headfire rate of spread (24.6 m/min or 1.48 km/h) and intensity (43,320 kW/m) based on the Canadian Forest Fire Behavior Prediction System were remarkably close to the observed fire behavior characteristics.

Online Link(s):
Alexander, M. E. 1991. The 1985 Butte fire in central Idaho: a Canadian perspective on the associated burning conditions. Pages 334-343 in Nodvin, S. C.; Waldrop, T. A., editors. Fire and the Environment: Ecological and Cultural Perspectives, Proceedings of an International Symposium, Mar. 20-24, 1990, Knoxville, TN. General Technical Report GTR-SE-69. Asheville, NC: USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station.