The acceleration of fire from point source to equilibrium spread
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): R. S. McAlpine; R. H. Wakimoto
Publication Year: 1991

Cataloging Information

  • backing fires
  • energy
  • experimental fires
  • fine fuels
  • fire danger rating
  • fire growth
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fuel loading
  • fuel moisture
  • headfires
  • heat
  • ignition
  • laboratory fires
  • needles
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • rate of spread
  • statistical analysis
  • wildfires
  • wind
  • wood
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 34420
Tall Timbers Record Number: 8652
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, 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.


The acceleration phase of a forest fire, from ignition to the equilibrium rate of spread, is perhaps the most important phase of fire behavior because often it represents the only time period in which suppression efforts could be effective. A series of experimental fires in a wind tunnel were conducted to evaluate this acceleration phase. Two types of fuel and a total of three fuel loadings and four wind speeds were tested. The results were analyzed as distance/time data, and a predictive equation produced of the form: Distance = B x Time. The derivative of this equation relating rate of spread at a specific elapsed time since ignition compares favorably with theoretical acceleration model curve forms. The elapsed time required to achieve an equilibrium rate of spread was constant for each fuel type over the range of conditions tested.© Society of American Foresters, Bethesda, MD. Abstract reproduced by permission.

McAlpine, R. S., and R. H. Wakimoto. 1991. The acceleration of fire from point source to equilibrium spread. Forest Science, v. 37, no. 5, p. 1314-1337.