Physical modelling of forest fire spreading through heterogeneous fuel beds
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Albert Simeoni; Pierre Salinesi; Frederic Morandini
Publication Year: 2011

Cataloging Information

  • Europe
  • fire critical behaviour
  • fire management
  • flammability
  • forest management
  • France
  • fuel loading
  • fuel management
  • fuel models
  • ignition
  • maritime pine
  • needles
  • non-combustible zones
  • Pinus pinaster
  • rate of spread
  • reaction-diffusion model
  • sloping terrain
  • statistical analysis
  • surface fire spread
  • surface fires
  • temperature
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: September 28, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 50139
Tall Timbers Record Number: 26687
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.


Vegetation cover is a heterogeneous medium composed of different kinds of fuels and non-combustible parts. Some properties of real fires arise from this heterogeneity. Creating heterogeneous fuel areas may be useful both in land management and in firefighting by reducing fire intensity and fire rate of spread. The spreading of a fire through a heterogeneous medium was studied with a two-dimensional reaction-diffusion physical model of fire spread. Randomly distributed combustible and non-combustible square elements constituted the heterogeneous fuel. Two main characteristics of the fire were directly computed by the model: the size of the zone influenced by the heat transferred from the fire front and the ignition condition of vegetation. The model was able to provide rate of fire spread, temperature distribution and energy transfers. The influence on the fire properties of the ratio between the amount of combustible elements and the total amount of elements was studied. The results provided the same critical fire behaviour as described in both percolation theory and laboratory experiments but the results were quantitatively different because the neighbourhood computed by the model varied in time and space with the geometry of the fire front. The simulations also qualitatively reproduced fire behaviour for heterogeneous fuel layers as observed in field experiments. This study shows that physical models can be used to study fire spreading through heterogeneous fuels, and some potential applications are proposed about the use of heterogeneity as a complementary tool for fuel management and firefighting.

Online Link(s):
Simeoni, Albert; Salinesi, Pierre; Morandini, Frederic. 2011. Physical modelling of forest fire spreading through heterogeneous fuel beds. International Journal of Wildland Fire 20(5):625-632.