The rate of spread of crown fires advancing over level to gently undulating terrain was modeled through nonlinear regression analysis based on an experimental data set pertaining primarily to boreal forest fuel types. The data set covered a significant spectrum of fuel complex and fire behavior characteristics. Crown fire rate of spread was modeled separately for fires spreading in active and passive crown fire regimes. The active crown fire rate of spread model encompassing the effects of 10-m open wind speed, estimated fine fuel moisture content, and canopy bulk density explained 61% of the variability in the data set. Passive crown fire spread was modeled through a correction factor based on a criterion for active crowning related to canopy bulk density. The models were evaluated against independent data sets originating from experimental fires. The active crown fire rate of spread model predicted 42% of the independent experimental crown fire data with an error lower then 25% and a mean absolute percent error of 26%. While the models have some shortcomings and areas in need of improvement, they can be readily utilized in support of fire management decision making and other 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).]