A crown fuel ignition model (CFIM) describing the temperature rise and subsequent ignition of the lower portion of tree crowns above a spreading surface fire was evaluated through a sensitivity analysis, comparison against other models, and testing against experimental fire data. Results indicate that the primary factors influencing crown fuel ignition are those determining the depth of the surface fire burning zone and the vertical distance between the ground/surface fuel strata and the lower boundary of the crown fuel layer. Intrinsic crown fuel properties such as fuel particle surface area-to-volume ratio and foliar moisture content were found to have a minor influence on the process of crown fuel ignition. Comparison of model predictions against data collected in high-intensity experimental fires and predictions from other models gave encouraging results relative to the validity of the model system.
[This publication is referenced in the "Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers" (Werth et al 2011).]