Calculation of fire spread rates across random landscapes
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Mark A. Finney
Publication Year: 2003

Cataloging Information

  • computer program
  • coniferous forests
  • fire danger rating
  • fire growth
  • fire management
  • fire size
  • fire spread
  • forest management
  • fuel types
  • landscape ecology
  • pine forests
  • rate of spread
  • statistical analysis
  • wilderness fire management
  • wildfires
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Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: May 28, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 4006
Tall Timbers Record Number: 15275
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals-I
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.


An approach is presented for approximating the expected spread rate of fires that burn across 2-dimensional landscapes with random fuel patterns. The method calculates a harmonic mean spread rate across a small 2-dimensional grid that allows the fire to move forward and laterally. Within this sample grid, all possible spatial fuel arrangements are enumerated and the spread rate of an elliptical fire moving through the cells is found by searching for the minimum travel time. More columns in the sample grid are required for accurately calculating expected spread rates where very slow-burning fuels are present, because the fire must be allowed to move farther laterally around slow patches. This calculation can be used to estimate fire spread rates across spatial fuel mixtures provided that the fire shape was determined from wind and slope. Results suggest that fire spread rates on random landscapes should increase with fire size and that random locations of fuel treatments would be inefficient in changing overall fire growth rates.

Online Link(s):
Finney, Mark A. 2003. Calculation of fire spread rates across random landscapes. International Journal of Wildland Fire 12(2):167-174.