Assessing crown fire potential by linking models of surface and crown fire behavior
Document Type: Report
Author(s): Joe H. Scott; Elizabeth D. Reinhardt
Publication Year: 2001

Cataloging Information

  • Abies grandis
  • Abies lasiocarpa
  • canopy fuels
  • crown fires
  • crown fraction burned
  • Douglas-fir
  • fire danger rating
  • fire hazard reduction
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire potential
  • fireline intensity
  • foliage
  • fuel loading
  • fuel moisture
  • fuel types
  • ground fires
  • hardwood forest
  • hazard assessment
  • litter
  • lodgepole pine
  • moisture
  • Montana
  • national forests
  • overstory
  • pine forests
  • Pinus contorta
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • Pinus spp.
  • ponderosa pine
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii
  • rate of spread
  • Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
  • sloping terrain
  • statistical analysis
  • surface fires
  • surface fuels
  • thinning
  • wildfires
  • wind
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: November 5, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 6194
Tall Timbers Record Number: 14093
TTRS Location Status: In-file
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.


Fire managers are increasingly concerned about the threat of crown fires, yet only now are quantitative methods for assessing crown fire hazard being developed. Links among existing mathematical models of fire behavior are used to develop two indices of crown fire hazard-the Torching Index and Crowning Index. These indices can be used to ordinate different forest stands by their relative susceptibility to crown fire and to compare the effectiveness of crown fire mitigation treatments. The coupled model was used to simulate the wide range of fire behavior possible in a forest stand, from a low-intensity surface fire to a high-intensity active crown fire, for the purpose of comparing potential fire behavior. The hazard indices and behavior simulations incorporate the effects of surface fuel characteristics, dead and live fuel moistures (surface and crown), slope steepness, canopy base height, canopy bulk density, and wind reduction by the canopy. Example simulations are for western Montana Pinus ponderosa and Pinus contorta stands. Although some of the models presented here have had limited testing or restricted geographic applicability, the concepts will apply to models for other regions and new models with greater geographic applicability.

[This publication is referenced in the "Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers" (Werth et al 2011).]

Online Link(s):
Scott, Joe H.; Reinhardt, Elizabeth D. 2001. Assessing crown fire potential by linking models of surface and crown fire behavior. Research Paper RMRS-RP-29. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 59 p.