FireWorks for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Northern Cascades - H09: Ladder Fuels and Fire Spread
Course Type: FireWorks activities
Availability: Public access
Author(s): FireWorks Educational Program
  • Ilana L. Abrahamson
    US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program
Date Created: June 8, 2018

Cataloging Information

  • crown fire
  • crown fuels
  • ladder fuels
  • surface fuels
Partner Site(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: February 17, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 56030


Lesson Overview: In this activity, students create a physical model to learn how the vertical arrangement of fuels affects the potential for fires to spread into tree crowns.

Lesson Goal: Increase students’ understanding of the relationship between fuel arrangement and vertical fire spread, especially in forests, shrublands, and woodlands.


  • Students can differentiate between surface fires and crown fires, and they can describe the wildland fuels that contribute to these kinds of fire spread.
  • Students can design model trees that can withstand surface fire.
  • Students can create a storyboard that describes the relationship among stand structure, fuel arrangement, and fire spread.
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