Ralph M. Nelson
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Fire Behavior
Data Evaluation or Data Analysis for Fire Modeling
Simulation Modeling

FRAMES RCS Number: 8945
Record updated: June 14, 2018
NRFSN number: 8211

Catchpole et al. (1998) reported rates of spread for 357 heading and no-wind fires burned in the wind tunnel facility of the USDA Forest Service's Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula, Montana for the purpose of developing models of wildland fire behavior. The fires were burned in horizontal fuel beds with differing characteristics due to various combinations of fuel type, particle size, packing ratio, bed depth, moisture content, and wind speed. In the present paper, fuel particle and fuel bed data for 260 heading fires from that study (plus as-yet unreported combustion efficiency and reaction time data) are used to develop models for predicting fuel bed reaction time and mass loss rate. Reaction time is computed from the flameout time of a single particle and fuel bed structural properties. It is assumed that the beds burn in a combustion regime controlled by the rate at which air mixes with volatiles produced during pyrolysis, and that not all air entering the fuel bed reaction zone participates in combustion. Comparison of reaction time and burning rate predictions with experimental values is encouraging in view of the simplified modeling approach and uncertainties associated with the experimental measurements.


Nelson Jr., Ralph M. 2003. Reaction times and burning rates for wind tunnel headfires. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 12(2): 195-211.

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