We evaluated the predictive capacity of a rate of spread model for active crown fires (M.G. Cruz, M.E. Alexander, and R.H. Wakimoto. 2005. Can. J. For. Res. 35: 1626-1639) using a relatively large (n = 57) independent data set originating from wildfire observations undertaken in Canada and the United States. The assembled wildfire data were characterized by more severe burning conditions and fire behavior in terms of rate of spread and the degree of crowning activity than the data set used to parameterize the crown fire rate of spread model. The statistics used to evaluate model adequacy showed good fit and a level of uncertainty considered acceptable for a wide variety of fire management and fire research applications. The crown fire rate of spread model predicted 42% of the data with an error lower then +/-25%. Mean absolute percent errors of 51% and 60% were obtained for Canadian and American wildfires, respectively. The characteristics of the data set did not allow us to determine where model performance was weaker and consequently identify its shortcomings and areas of future improvement. The level of uncertainty observed suggests that the model can be readily utilized in support of operational fire management decision making and for simulations in fire research studies.
[This publication is referenced in the "Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers" (Werth et al 2011).]