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An Empirical Model for the Effect of Wind on Fire Spread Rate

Author(s): Carlos G. Rossa, Paulo M. Fernandes
Year Published: 2018

Predicting wind-driven rate of fire spread (RoS) has been the aim of many studies. Still, a field-tested model for general use, regardless of vegetation type, is currently lacking. We develop an empirical model for wind-aided RoS from laboratory fires (n = 216), assuming that it depends mainly on fire-released energy and on the extension of flame over the fuel bed in still air, and that it can be obtained by multiplying RoS in no-wind and no-slope conditions by a factor quantifying the wind effect. Testing against independent laboratory and field data (n = 461) shows good agreement between observations and predictions. Our results suggest that the fuel bed density effect detected by other work may be a surrogate for the amount of fuel involved in combustion, which depends on fuel load. Because RoS under windless conditions is unaffected by fuel load, the involved mechanisms differ from wind-aided propagation. Compared to shallow fuel beds, the wind effect is usually modest in deep vegetation, because tall fuel complexes are dominated by live fuels (high moisture content) and flames extend less above the vegetation when fuel moisture is high. The present work warrants further inspection in a broader range of field conditions.

Citation: Carlos G. Rossa *  and Paulo M. Fernandes. 2018. An Empirical Model for the Effect of Wind on Fire Spread Rate. Fire 1(2): 31. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire1020031
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Data Evaluation or Data Analysis for Fire Modeling, Simulation Modeling
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 18138
Record updated: Sep 24, 2018