Forest fires are influenced by weather, fuels, and topography, but the relative influence of these factors may vary in different forest types. Compositional analysis can be used to assess the relative importance of fuels and weather in the boreal forest. Do forest or wild land fires burn more flammable fuels preferentially or, because most large fires burn in extreme weather conditions, do fires burn fuels in the proportions they are available despite differences in flammability? In the Canadian boreal forest, aspen (Populus tremuloides) has been found to burn in less than the proportion in which it is available. We used the province of Ontario's Provincial Fuels Database and fire records provided by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to compare the fuel composition of area burned by 594 large (>40 ha) fires that occurred in Ontario's boreal forest region, a study area some 430 000 km2 in size, between 1996 and 2006 with the fuel composition of the neighborhoods around the fires. We found that, over the range of fire weather conditions in which large fires burned and in a study area with 8% aspen, fires burn fuels in the proportions that they are available, results which are consistent with the dominance of weather in controlling large fires. © 2009 by the Ecological Society of America. Abstract reproduced by permission.