The general nature of crown fires
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Martin E. Alexander; Miguel G. Cruz
Publication Year: 2014

Cataloging Information

  • conifer forests
  • crown fires
  • crowning
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire suppression
  • forest management
  • ground fires
  • ROS - rate of spread
  • surface fires
  • surface fuels
  • wildfires
  • wind
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Record Last Modified: October 2, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 17771
Tall Timbers Record Number: 29880
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: A13.32:73/4
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


In conifer forests, three broad types of fire are commonly recognized on the basis of the fuel stratum or strata controlling their propagation: ground or subsurface fire, surface fire, and crown fire. Ground or subsurface fires burn very slowly in the duff layer with no visible flame and sometimes with only the occasional wisp of smoke. Surface fires spread in the litter and dead-down woody fuel layer of s stand in either the heading direction with the wind and/or upslope, or as backing fires advancing into the wind and/or downslope. Crown fires are dependent on a surface fire and, in some instances, ladder or bridge fuels for both its initial onset and capacity for maintaining flames in the crown space of a conifer forest stand. Thus, a crown fire advances through both the surface and tree canopy fuel layers with the surface and crown fire phases more or less linked together as a single unit. Thus, the term 'crowning' refers to both the fire's ascension into the crowns of trees and the spread from tree to tree.

Alexander, Martin E.; Cruz, Miguel G. 2014. The general nature of crown fires. Fire Management Today 73(4):8-11.