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Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): Judith A. Beck; Brian Simpson
Publication Date: 2007

The 2003 fire season in British Columbia, Canada was one of the worst in recent history. Fire in the wildland-urban interface destroyed over 334 homes and many businesses, and forced the evacuation of over 45,000 people. Drought cycles and forest health decline have contributed to the recent events of extreme fire behaviour across the province. To address key recommendations from post-season reviews, a balanced approach to fire management is being implemented with some emphasis on strategic fuel management, community wildfire protection plans, and fuel treatment projects.

In Canada, the most significant structural losses due to wildland fire have occured as a result of ember transport rather than by way of direct flame contact, hence an analytical approach has been developed to identify those forest stands that are capable of spotting and would threaten homes within the wildland-urban interface. For the potential spotting analysis, the CFFDRS has been applied along with spotting models, which have been calibrated for each of the fuel types within the Canadian Fire Behaviour Prediction (FBP) System, and a spotting potential for each area was assigned.

A structure density map was developed for the province based on structure density. Developments with approximately 10 to 1000 structures/km2 are the focus for provincial fuel treatment priorities, because fuels become sparse as concrete dominates more urban areas and the cost of treating isolated structures becomes impracticable.

Spotting potential was then combined with structure density to prioritize areas for fuel treatment. The results of the analytical approach developed are well correlated spatially with the general structural losses that were incurred during the Okanagan Mountain Park fire in 2003, and suggest that 1.7 million hectares potentially require fuel treatment in British Columbia.

This paper describes the provincial wildfire threat analysis, and discusses future potential model refinements. It also details the British Columbia’s fuel management strategy, which includes community protection planning and fuel treament programs to help local governments, partners, industry and stakeholders mitigate the impacts of wildland fire and implement fuel treatments.

Online Links
Link to this document (554 KB; pdf)
Citation: Beck, Judi; Simpson, Brian. 2007. Wildfire threat analysis and the development of a fuel management strategy for British Columbia. In 'Proceedings of Wildfire 2007 – 4th International Wildland Fire Conference', 13–17 May 2007, Seville, Spain. Madrid and Seville, Spain: Ministry of Environment and Junta de Andalucia. 12 p.

Cataloging Information

Partner Sites:
  • 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park Fire
  • British Columbia
  • Canada
  • ember transport
  • FBP - CFFDRS Fire Behavior Prediction System
  • fuel management
  • fuel treatment
  • spot fires
  • structure loss
  • wildfire threat
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 69174