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The 1985 Butte fire in central Idaho: a Canadian perspective on the associated burning conditions

Author(s): Martin E. Alexander
Year Published: 1991

During the afternoon of August 29, 1985, the Butte Fire made a high-intensity crown fire run, covering a distance of 2.22 km in one hour and 40 minutes, and forcing 73 fire fighters to deploy their protective fire shelters. This paper presents a retrospective analysis of the fire behavior in terms of the two major subsystems of the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System. The fuel moisture code. (FFMC 94.6, DMC 172, DC 744) and fire behavior indexes (lSI 22.5, BUI 218, FWI 65) of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System were indicative of extreme fire behavior and ignition potential. The predictions of headfire rate of spread (24.6 m/min or 1.48 km/h) and intensity (43,320 kW/m) based on the Canadian Forest Fire Behavior Prediction System were remarkably close to the observed fire behavior characteristics.

Citation: Alexander, M. E. 1991. The 1985 Butte fire in central Idaho: a Canadian perspective on the associated burning conditions. In: Nodvin, S. C.; Waldrop, T. A., eds. Fire and the environment: ecological and cultural perspectives, proceedings of an international symposium; 1990 March 20-24; Knoxville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. GTR-SE-69. Asheville, NC: USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. p. 334-343.
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Extreme Fire Behavior, Case Studies
Ecosystem(s): Subalpine wet spruce-fir forest, Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest, Montane wet mixed-conifer forest, Montane dry mixed-conifer forest
Document Type: Conference Proceedings, Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 11055
FRAMES RCS number: 10931
Record updated: May 16, 2018