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Type: Report
Author(s): Carol M. Ewell; Mark Courson; Alicia L. Reiner; Matthew B. Dickinson; Chelsea Morgan; Tiffany P. Norman; Kristy Blackburn; Zach Sohl; Hannah Key; Katherine Napier; Bret W. Butler
Publication Date: 2015

This report contains the results of a one week assessment of fire behavior, vegetation, fuel loading, consumption, and fire effects to vegetation and soil resources for areas within the French Fire. The French Fire probably started from an abandoned campfire on the Bass Lake Ranger District of the Sierra National Forest. The fire grew to over 13,000 acres. Pre-fire data was collected at five plots. Two plots were burned and post-fire vegetation and fuel conditions were successfully measured at those sites. Individuals from Stanislaus NF (STF), Sierra NF (SNF), and a few Forest Service fire researches joined and trained with FBAT on fire behavior equipment and fuels/vegetation inventory techniques. Two sites were successfully measured and burned on August 1st 2014 at the northwestern end the French fire below the 4S81 road. While these two sites represent limited variation in fuel conditions, FBAT was able to capture higher intensity fire behavior and effects within the sites. Recent fuel treatments did not exist in the nearby projected fire growth areas; this area was in planning stages for vegetation and fuel treatments and the baseline data collected by FBAT will help contribute to planning efforts. The French fire burned during drought conditions resulting in high fuel consumption and intense behavior, as recorded in the two burned sites, as well as mixed severity fire effects across the fire area. The data collected by FBAT will be used to improve understanding of fires burning under these extreme conditions. Permanent transect markers of all five sites were left for any future resource monitoring by the Sierra National Forest or other researchers. FBAT also gathered heat flux data with newly calibrated equipment which will start to build a dataset to contribute to Missoula Fire Lab safety zone research intended to improve firefighter safety. FBAT also betatested a new soil sampling protocol and sent several soil samples off to Michigan State University collaborators for analysis. Beta testing is the first step in integrating soil nutrient and black carbon effects into FBAT protocols. FBAT also collected integrated fuels, consumption, fire effects and fire behavior data which will be used along with data from other fires to evaluate and possibly calibrate fire behavior or fire effects models. Ground data on fire behavior and effects are also valuable as evaluation and calibration datasets for remote-sensing studies of fire severity and fuel treatment effects. The value of FBAT’s ground data will grow as data from future fires are combined with the growing archive.

Online Links
Link to this document (1.7 MB; pdf)
Citation: Ewell, Carol M. et al. 2014. 2014 French Fire, Sierra National Forest: Fire Behavior Assessment Team (FBAT) Summary Report. USDA Forest Service Fire Behavior Assessment Team. 28 p.

Cataloging Information

  • 2014 French Fire
  • California
  • Madera County
  • Sierra National Forest
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 63919