A radiation-driven model for crown fire spread
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Bret W. Butler; Mark A. Finney; Patricia L. Andrews; Frank A. Albini
Publication Year: 2004

Cataloging Information

  • black spruce
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • coniferous forests
  • crown fires
  • dead fuels
  • duff
  • experimental fire
  • fire danger rating
  • fire exclusion
  • fire management
  • fire resistant plants
  • flame length
  • fuel loading
  • fuel management
  • fuel moisture
  • heat
  • ICFME - International Crown Fire Modeling Experiment
  • ignition
  • jack pine
  • Northwest Territories
  • photography
  • Picea mariana
  • Pinus banksiana
  • rate of spread
  • shrubs
  • size classes
  • stand characteristics
  • statistical analysis
  • surface fuels
  • wildfires
  • wind
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Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: August 17, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 3407
Tall Timbers Record Number: 17366
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals-C
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.


A numerical model for the prediction of the spread rate and intensity of forest crown fires has been developed. The model is the culmination of over 20 years of previously reported fire modelling research and experiments; however, it is only recently that it has been formulated in a closed form that permits a priori prediction of crown fire spread rates. This paper presents a brief review of the development and structure of the model followed by a discussion of recent modifications made to formulate a fully predictive model. The model is based on the assumption that radiant energy transfer dominates energy exchange between the fire and unignited fuel with provisions for convective cooling of the fuels ahead of the fire front. Model predictions are compared against measured spread rates of selected experimental fires conducted during the International Crown Fire Modelling Experiment in a Pinus banksiana-Picea mariana forest in Northwest Territories, Canada. Results of the comparison indicate that the closed form of the model accurately predicts the relative response of fire spread rate to fuel and environment variables but overpredicts the magnitude of fire spread rates.

[This publication is referenced in the "Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers" (Werth et al 2011).]

Online Link(s):
Butler, Bret W.; Finney, Mark A.; Andrews, Patricia L.; Albini, Frank A. 2004. A radiation-driven model for crown fire spread. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 34(8):1588-1599.

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