An analysis of a dataset (n = 58) of high-intensity wildfire observations in cured grasslands from southern Australia revealed a simple relationship suitable for quickly obtaining a first approximation of a fire’s spread rate under low dead fuel moisture contents and strong wind speeds. It was found that the forward rate of fire spread is approximately 20% of the average 10-m open wind speed. The data on rate of fire spread and 10 m open wind speed ranged from 1.6 to 17 and 20 to 62 km h−1, respectively. The validity of the resulting rule of thumb was examined across a spectrum of burning conditions and its performance was contrasted against that of established empirical-based fire spread models for three different grassland fuel conditions currently used operationally in Australia. The 20% rule of thumb for grassfires produced error statistics comparable to that of the fire spread rate model for grazed or cut grass fuel conditions as recommended for general use during the summer fire season in southern Australia.
Cruz, Miguel G.; Alexander, Martin E.; Kilinc, Musa. 2022. Wildfire rates of spread in grasslands under critical burning conditions. Fire 5(2):55. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5020055