Editor’s Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to readers, or important in the respective research area. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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20 pages, 2227 KiB  
Article
Socio-Psychological, Economic and Environmental Effects of Forest Fires
by Stavros Kalogiannidis, Fotios Chatzitheodoridis, Dimitrios Kalfas, Christina Patitsa and Aristidis Papagrigoriou
Fire 2023, 6(7), 280; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6070280 - 21 Jul 2023
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3157
Abstract
One of the most common forest disturbances, fire, has a significant influence on the people, societies, economies, and environment of countries all over the world. This study explores the different environmental and socioeconomic effects of forest fires to establish priorities for countries in [...] Read more.
One of the most common forest disturbances, fire, has a significant influence on the people, societies, economies, and environment of countries all over the world. This study explores the different environmental and socioeconomic effects of forest fires to establish priorities for countries in battling and mitigating the harmful effects of forest fires based on data collected from 382 professionals working in Greece’s forestry and agriculture sectors. Secondary data, especially from Statista, were further utilized to enhance the analytical comparisons and conclusions of this study. Wildfires in Greece destroy agricultural land and greatly impact the rural economy and community. This study showed that forest fires have led to several economic costs, mainly affecting the incomes of different investors in the forest sector in Greece. It was revealed that the overall cost of a fire is determined by the direct and indirect expenditures as well as the price of fire control and preventative methods. Direct expenses are broken down into two categories: direct damage that occurs immediately and direct losses that are caused immediately after a fire. Governments should take the initiative to create and expand bilateral and/or multilateral cooperation and coordination, as well as exchange necessary financial resources, technology, and training, to reduce the effects of forest fires in a fragile international man-made and natural environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Firefighting Approaches and Extreme Wildfires)
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15 pages, 3569 KiB  
Article
Spatial Structure of Lightning and Precipitation Associated with Lightning-Caused Wildfires in the Central to Eastern United States
by Brian Vant-Hull and William Koshak
Fire 2023, 6(7), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6070262 - 02 Jul 2023
Viewed by 925
Abstract
The horizontal storm structure surrounding 92,512 lightning-ignited wildfires is examined in the mid to eastern sections of the United States from 2003 to 2015 using Vaisala’s National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN), NCEP’s Stage IV gauge-corrected radar precipitation mosaic, and the US Forest Service’s [...] Read more.
The horizontal storm structure surrounding 92,512 lightning-ignited wildfires is examined in the mid to eastern sections of the United States from 2003 to 2015 using Vaisala’s National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN), NCEP’s Stage IV gauge-corrected radar precipitation mosaic, and the US Forest Service’s Fire Occurrence Database. Though lightning flash density peaks strongly around fire ignitions on the instantaneous 1 km scale, on the hourly 10 km scale, both the lightning and precipitation peaks are typically offset from fire ignitions. Lightning density is higher, and precipitation is lower around ignition points compared to non-ignition points. The average spatial distribution of total lightning flashes around fire ignitions is symmetrical, while that of precipitation and positive flashes is not. Though regression is consistent with the claim that positive flashes have a stronger association with ignition than negative flashes, the statistical significance is ambiguous and is contradicted by an unchanging positive flash fraction in the vicinity of wildfires. Full article
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60 pages, 9960 KiB  
Concept Paper
Towards an Integrated Approach to Wildfire Risk Assessment: When, Where, What and How May the Landscapes Burn
by Emilio Chuvieco, Marta Yebra, Simone Martino, Kirsten Thonicke, Marta Gómez-Giménez, Jesus San-Miguel, Duarte Oom, Ramona Velea, Florent Mouillot, Juan R. Molina, Ana I. Miranda, Diogo Lopes, Michele Salis, Marin Bugaric, Mikhail Sofiev, Evgeny Kadantsev, Ioannis Z. Gitas, Dimitris Stavrakoudis, George Eftychidis, Avi Bar-Massada, Alex Neidermeier, Valerio Pampanoni, M. Lucrecia Pettinari, Fatima Arrogante-Funes, Clara Ochoa, Bruno Moreira and Domingos Viegasadd Show full author list remove Hide full author list
Fire 2023, 6(5), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6050215 - 22 May 2023
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 6991
Abstract
This paper presents a review of concepts related to wildfire risk assessment, including the determination of fire ignition and propagation (fire danger), the extent to which fire may spatially overlap with valued assets (exposure), and the potential losses and resilience to those losses [...] Read more.
This paper presents a review of concepts related to wildfire risk assessment, including the determination of fire ignition and propagation (fire danger), the extent to which fire may spatially overlap with valued assets (exposure), and the potential losses and resilience to those losses (vulnerability). This is followed by a brief discussion of how these concepts can be integrated and connected to mitigation and adaptation efforts. We then review operational fire risk systems in place in various parts of the world. Finally, we propose an integrated fire risk system being developed under the FirEUrisk European project, as an example of how the different risk components (including danger, exposure and vulnerability) can be generated and combined into synthetic risk indices to provide a more comprehensive wildfire risk assessment, but also to consider where and on what variables reduction efforts should be stressed and to envisage policies to be better adapted to future fire regimes. Climate and socio-economic changes entail that wildfires are becoming even more a critical environmental hazard; extreme fires are observed in many areas of the world that regularly experience fire, yet fire activity is also increasing in areas where wildfires were previously rare. To mitigate the negative impacts of fire, those responsible for managing risk must leverage the information available through the risk assessment process, along with an improved understanding on how the various components of risk can be targeted to improve and optimize the many strategies for mitigation and adaptation to an increasing fire risk. Full article
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10 pages, 1511 KiB  
Article
Exploration of the Burning Question: A Long History of Fire in Eastern Australia with and without People
by Mark Constantine IV, Alan N. Williams, Alexander Francke, Haidee Cadd, Matt Forbes, Tim J. Cohen, Xiaohong Zhu and Scott D. Mooney
Fire 2023, 6(4), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6040152 - 11 Apr 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3594
Abstract
Ethnographic observations suggest that Indigenous peoples employed a distinct regime of frequent, low-intensity fires in the Australian landscape in the past. However, the timing of this behaviour and its ecological impact remain uncertain. Here, we present detailed analysis of charcoal, including a novel [...] Read more.
Ethnographic observations suggest that Indigenous peoples employed a distinct regime of frequent, low-intensity fires in the Australian landscape in the past. However, the timing of this behaviour and its ecological impact remain uncertain. Here, we present detailed analysis of charcoal, including a novel measure of fire severity using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, at a site in eastern Australia that spans the last two glacial/interglacial transitions between 135–104 ka and 18–0.5 ka BP (broadly equivalent to Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6-5 and 2-1, respectively). The accumulation of charcoal and vegetation composition was similar across both periods, correlating closely with Antarctic ice core records, and suggesting that climate is the main driver of fire regimes. Fire severity was lower over the past 18,000 years compared to the penultimate glacial/interglacial period and suggests increasing anthropogenic influence over the landscape during this time. Together with local archaeological records, our data therefore imply that Indigenous peoples have been undertaking cultural burning since the beginning of the Holocene, and potentially the end of the Last Glacial Maximum. We highlight the fact that this signal is not easily discernible in the other proxies examined, including widely used charcoal techniques, and propose that any anthropogenic signal will be subtle in the palaeo-environmental record. While early Indigenous people’s reasons for landscape burning were different from those today, our findings nonetheless suggest that the current land management directions are based on a substantive history and could result in a reduction in extreme fire events. Full article
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48 pages, 10726 KiB  
Review
Countering Omitted Evidence of Variable Historical Forests and Fire Regime in Western USA Dry Forests: The Low-Severity-Fire Model Rejected
by William L. Baker, Chad T. Hanson, Mark A. Williams and Dominick A. DellaSala
Fire 2023, 6(4), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6040146 - 03 Apr 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 9520
Abstract
The structure and fire regime of pre-industrial (historical) dry forests over ~26 million ha of the western USA is of growing importance because wildfires are increasing and spilling over into communities. Management is guided by current conditions relative to the historical range of [...] Read more.
The structure and fire regime of pre-industrial (historical) dry forests over ~26 million ha of the western USA is of growing importance because wildfires are increasing and spilling over into communities. Management is guided by current conditions relative to the historical range of variability (HRV). Two models of HRV, with different implications, have been debated since the 1990s in a complex series of papers, replies, and rebuttals. The “low-severity” model is that dry forests were relatively uniform, low in tree density, and dominated by low- to moderate-severity fires; the “mixed-severity” model is that dry forests were heterogeneous, with both low and high tree densities and a mixture of fire severities. Here, we simply rebut evidence in the low-severity model’s latest review, including its 37 critiques of the mixed-severity model. A central finding of high-severity fire recently exceeding its historical rates was not supported by evidence in the review itself. A large body of published evidence supporting the mixed-severity model was omitted. These included numerous direct observations by early scientists, early forest atlases, early newspaper accounts, early oblique and aerial photographs, seven paleo-charcoal reconstructions, ≥18 tree-ring reconstructions, 15 land survey reconstructions, and analysis of forest inventory data. Our rebuttal shows that evidence omitted in the review left a falsification of the scientific record, with significant land management implications. The low-severity model is rejected and mixed-severity model is supported by the corrected body of scientific evidence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fire Regimes and Ecosystem Resilience)
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22 pages, 2900 KiB  
Article
The Curse of Conservation: Empirical Evidence Demonstrating That Changes in Land-Use Legislation Drove Catastrophic Bushfires in Southeast Australia
by Alice Laming, Michael-Shawn Fletcher, Anthony Romano, Russell Mullett, Simon Connor, Michela Mariani, S. Yoshi Maezumi and Patricia S. Gadd
Fire 2022, 5(6), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5060175 - 26 Oct 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 10286
Abstract
Protecting “wilderness” and removing human involvement in “nature” was a core pillar of the modern conservation movement through the 20th century. Conservation approaches and legislation informed by this narrative fail to recognise that Aboriginal people have long valued, used, and shaped most landscapes [...] Read more.
Protecting “wilderness” and removing human involvement in “nature” was a core pillar of the modern conservation movement through the 20th century. Conservation approaches and legislation informed by this narrative fail to recognise that Aboriginal people have long valued, used, and shaped most landscapes on Earth. Aboriginal people curated open and fire-safe Country for millennia with fire in what are now forested and fire-prone regions. Settler land holders recognised the importance of this and mimicked these practices. The Land Conservation Act of 1970 in Victoria, Australia, prohibited burning by settler land holders in an effort to protect natural landscapes. We present a 120-year record of vegetation and fire regime change from Gunaikurnai Country, southeast Australia. Our data demonstrate that catastrophic bushfires first impacted the local area immediately following the prohibition of settler burning in 1970, which allowed a rapid increase in flammable eucalypts that resulted in the onset of catastrophic bushfires. Our data corroborate local narratives on the root causes of the current bushfire crisis. Perpetuation of the wilderness myth in conservation may worsen this crisis, and it is time to listen to and learn from Indigenous and local people, and to empower these communities to drive research and management agendas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Fire Social Science)
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18 pages, 36662 KiB  
Article
A Thermal Imaging Flame-Detection Model for Firefighting Robot Based on YOLOv4-F Model
by Sen Li, Yeheng Wang, Chunyong Feng, Dan Zhang, Huaizhou Li, Wei Huang and Long Shi
Fire 2022, 5(5), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5050172 - 21 Oct 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4906
Abstract
Fire robots are an effective way to save lives from fire, but their limited detection accuracy has greatly hampered their practical applications in complicated fire conditions. This study therefore proposes an advanced thermal imaging flame detection model of YOLOv4-F based on YOLOv4-tiny. We [...] Read more.
Fire robots are an effective way to save lives from fire, but their limited detection accuracy has greatly hampered their practical applications in complicated fire conditions. This study therefore proposes an advanced thermal imaging flame detection model of YOLOv4-F based on YOLOv4-tiny. We replaced the Leaky ReLU activation function with the Mish activation function in the YOLOV4-tiny feature extraction network. A Spatial Pyramid Pooling (SPP) was also added to increase the receiving range of the feature extraction network. To improve the feature fusion efficiency between multi-scale feature layers, a Path Aggregation Network (PANet) was adopted to replace the YOLOv4-tiny Feature Pyramid Network (FPN) with full use of feature information; a high-quality dataset containing 14,757 thermal imaging flame images was built according to the PASCAL VOC 2007 dataset standard. The results show that, when compared to the YOLOv4-tiny, YOLOv5-s, and YOLOv7-tiny models, the average detection accuracy of the proposed YOLOv4-F model is 5.75% higher, the average mAP of the five IOU cases rises by 7.02%, and the average detection confidence of three scaled flames shows a 18.09% gain. The proposed YOLOV4-F meets the requirements of fire robots on real-time responses and accurate flame detection, offering an important tool to improve the performance of the current fire robots. Full article
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15 pages, 3691 KiB  
Article
Using Participatory Mapping to Foster Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction in Forest Fire-Prone Areas: The Case of Monchique in Portugal
by Maria Partidário, Guilherme Saad, Margarida B. Monteiro, Joana Dias, Rute Martins, Isabel Loupa Ramos, Henrique Ribeiro, Miguel Teixeira, Maria de Belém Costa Freitas and Carla Antunes
Fire 2022, 5(5), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5050146 - 22 Sep 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2381
Abstract
Local knowledge and communities’ active role in disaster risk areas are recognized in the literature as key conditions to better understand risks, enhance adaptive capacities and foster local resilience. A participatory action research project in forest fire-prone areas in Monchique, Portugal, is aligned [...] Read more.
Local knowledge and communities’ active role in disaster risk areas are recognized in the literature as key conditions to better understand risks, enhance adaptive capacities and foster local resilience. A participatory action research project in forest fire-prone areas in Monchique, Portugal, is aligned with the literature and adopts participatory mapping as a method that can bring evidence to the importance of local knowledge and communities’ agency. In the BRIDGE Project, different types of knowledge are integrated, triggering local/collective agency and fostering a forest fire community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) approach. An innovation laboratory (InnoLab) provides the space for dialogue and knowledge sharing for different actors that manage forest territories. In the InnoLab, participatory mapping is used as a method to engage landowners where risk factors and local vulnerabilities were identified. Their active engagement enabled a collective perception in the assessment of vulnerability and led to the identification of strategic measures for risk reduction. This paper shares the process and outcomes of this participatory mapping, highlighting the benefits of a community approach and the importance of local knowledge and practices as recognized in the literature. It also reveals how the active role of local stakeholders can help drive a CBDRR process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Recent Breakthroughs in Forest Fire Research)
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20 pages, 3566 KiB  
Article
Evaluating Satellite Fire Detection Products and an Ensemble Approach for Estimating Burned Area in the United States
by Amy L. Marsha and Narasimhan K. Larkin
Fire 2022, 5(5), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5050147 - 22 Sep 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2147
Abstract
Fire location and burning area are essential parameters for estimating fire emissions. However, ground-based fire data (such as fire perimeters from incident reports) are often not available with the timeliness required for real-time forecasting. Fire detection products derived from satellite instruments such as [...] Read more.
Fire location and burning area are essential parameters for estimating fire emissions. However, ground-based fire data (such as fire perimeters from incident reports) are often not available with the timeliness required for real-time forecasting. Fire detection products derived from satellite instruments such as the GOES-16 Advanced Baseline Imager or MODIS, on the other hand, are available in near real-time. Using a ground fire dataset of 2699 fires during 2017–2019, we fit a series of linear models that use multiple satellite fire detection products (HMS aggregate fire product, GOES-16, MODIS, and VIIRS) to assess the ability of satellite data to detect and estimate total burned area. It was found that on average models fit with fire detections from GOES-16 products performed better than those developed from other satellites in the study (modelled R2 = 0.84 and predictive R2 = 0.88). However, no single satellite product was found to best estimate incident burned area, highlighting the need for an ensemble approach. With our proposed modelling ensemble, we demonstrate its ability to estimate burned area and suggest its further use in daily fire tracking and emissions-modeling frameworks. Full article
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17 pages, 2461 KiB  
Article
What Makes Wildfires Destructive in California?
by Alexandra D. Syphard, Jon E. Keeley, Mike Gough, Mitchell Lazarz and John Rogan
Fire 2022, 5(5), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5050133 - 31 Aug 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3469
Abstract
As human impacts from wildfires mount, there is a pressing need to understand why structures are lost in destructive fires. Despite growing research on factors contributing to structure loss, fewer studies have focused on why some fires are destructive and others are not. [...] Read more.
As human impacts from wildfires mount, there is a pressing need to understand why structures are lost in destructive fires. Despite growing research on factors contributing to structure loss, fewer studies have focused on why some fires are destructive and others are not. We characterized overall differences between fires that resulted in structure loss (“destructive fires”) and those that did not (“non-destructive wildfires”) across three California regions. Then, we performed statistical analyses on large fires only (≥100 ha) to distinguish the primary differences between large destructive large fires and large non-destructive fires. Overall, destructive fires were at least an order of magnitude larger than non-destructive fires, with the largest area burned varying by season in different regions. Fire severity was also significantly higher in destructive than non-destructive fires. The statistical analysis showed that, in the San Francisco Bay Area and the northern Sierra Nevada foothills, proximity to the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) was by far the most important factor differentiating destructive and non-destructive wildfires, followed by different combinations of short-term weather, seasonal climate, topography, and vegetation productivity. In Southern California, wind velocity on the day of the fire ignition was the top factor, which is consistent with previous assumptions that wind-driven fires tend to be most destructive and most of the destruction occurs within the first 24 h. Additionally, Southern California’s high population density increases the odds that a human-caused wildfire may occur during a severe fire-weather event. The geographical differences among regions and the variation of factors explaining the differences between large destructive and large non-destructive fires reflects the complexity inherent in decision-making for reducing wildfire risk. Land use planning to reduce future exposure of housing development to fire and increased focus on wildfire ignition prevention emerge as two approaches with substantial potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fire in California)
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20 pages, 2152 KiB  
Article
Modern Pyromes: Biogeographical Patterns of Fire Characteristics across the Contiguous United States
by Megan E. Cattau, Adam L. Mahood, Jennifer K. Balch and Carol A. Wessman
Fire 2022, 5(4), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5040095 - 10 Jul 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4674
Abstract
In recent decades, wildfires in many areas of the United States (U.S.) have become larger and more frequent with increasing anthropogenic pressure, including interactions between climate, land-use change, and human ignitions. We aimed to characterize the spatiotemporal patterns of contemporary fire characteristics across [...] Read more.
In recent decades, wildfires in many areas of the United States (U.S.) have become larger and more frequent with increasing anthropogenic pressure, including interactions between climate, land-use change, and human ignitions. We aimed to characterize the spatiotemporal patterns of contemporary fire characteristics across the contiguous United States (CONUS). We derived fire variables based on frequency, fire radiative power (FRP), event size, burned area, and season length from satellite-derived fire products and a government records database on a 50 km grid (1984–2020). We used k-means clustering to create a hierarchical classification scheme of areas with relatively homogeneous fire characteristics, or modern ‘pyromes,’ and report on the model with eight major pyromes. Human ignition pressure provides a key explanation for the East-West patterns of fire characteristics. Human-dominated pyromes (85% mean anthropogenic ignitions), with moderate fire size, area burned, and intensity, covered 59% of CONUS, primarily in the East and East Central. Physically dominated pyromes (47% mean anthropogenic ignitions) characterized by relatively large (average 439 mean annual ha per 50 km pixel) and intense (average 75 mean annual megawatts/pixel) fires occurred in 14% of CONUS, primarily in the West and West Central. The percent of anthropogenic ignitions increased over time in all pyromes (0.5–1.7% annually). Higher fire frequency was related to smaller events and lower FRP, and these relationships were moderated by vegetation, climate, and ignition type. Notably, a spatial mismatch between our derived modern pyromes and both ecoregions and historical fire regimes suggests other major drivers for modern U.S. fire patterns than vegetation-based classification systems. This effort to delineate modern U.S. pyromes based on fire observations provides a national-scale framework of contemporary fire regions and may help elucidate patterns of change in an uncertain future. Full article
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20 pages, 3781 KiB  
Article
A Field Study of Tropical Peat Fire Behaviour and Associated Carbon Emissions
by Laura L. B. Graham, Grahame B. Applegate, Andri Thomas, Kevin C. Ryan, Bambang H. Saharjo and Mark A. Cochrane
Fire 2022, 5(3), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5030062 - 29 Apr 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5101
Abstract
Tropical peatlands store vast volumes of carbon belowground. Human land uses have led to their degradation, reducing their carbon storage services. Clearing and drainage make peatlands susceptible to surface and belowground fires. Satellites do not readily detect smouldering peat fires, which release globally [...] Read more.
Tropical peatlands store vast volumes of carbon belowground. Human land uses have led to their degradation, reducing their carbon storage services. Clearing and drainage make peatlands susceptible to surface and belowground fires. Satellites do not readily detect smouldering peat fires, which release globally significant quantities of aerosols and climate-influencing gases. Despite national and international desire to improve management of these fires, few published results exist for in situ tropical peat fire behaviour and associated carbon emissions. We present new field methodology for calculating rates of fire spread within degraded peat (average spread rates, vertical 0.8 cm h−1, horizontal 2.7 cm h−1) and associated peat volume losses (102 m3 ha−1 in August, 754 m3 ha−1 in September) measured at six peat fire sites in Kalimantan, Indonesia, in 2015. Utilizing locally collected bulk density and emission factors, total August and September gas emissions of 27.2 t ha−1 (8.1 tC ha−1) and 200.7 t ha−1 (60.2 tC ha−1) were estimated. We provide much needed, but currently lacking, IPCC Tier 3-level data to improve GHG estimates from tropical peat fires. We demonstrate how calculations of total emission estimates can vary greatly in magnitude (+798% to −26%) depending on environmental conditions, season, peat burn depth methodology, bulk density and emission factors data sources, and assumed versus observed combustion factors. This illustrates the importance of in situ measurements and the need for more refined methods to improve accuracies of GHG estimates from tropical peat fires. Full article
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27 pages, 14073 KiB  
Article
Large-Scale Enclosure Fire Experiments Adopting CLT Slabs with Different Types of Polyurethane Adhesives: Genesis and Preliminary Findings
by Danny Hopkin, Wojciech Węgrzyński, Michael Spearpoint, Ian Fu, Harald Krenn, Tim Sleik, Carmen Gorska and Gordian Stapf
Fire 2022, 5(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5020039 - 20 Mar 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 8538
Abstract
This paper provides understanding of the fire performance of exposed cross-laminated-timber (CLT) in large enclosures. An office-type configuration has been represented by a 3.75 by 7.6 by 2.4 m high enclosure constructed of non-combustible blockwork walls, with a large opening on one long [...] Read more.
This paper provides understanding of the fire performance of exposed cross-laminated-timber (CLT) in large enclosures. An office-type configuration has been represented by a 3.75 by 7.6 by 2.4 m high enclosure constructed of non-combustible blockwork walls, with a large opening on one long face. Three experiments are described in which propane-fuelled burners created a line fire that impinged on different ceiling types. The first experiment had a non-combustible ceiling lining in which the burners were set to provide flames that extended approximately halfway along the underside of the ceiling. Two further experiments used exposed 160 mm thick (40-20-40-20-40 mm) loaded CLT panels with a standard polyurethane adhesive between lamella in one experiment and a modified polyurethane adhesive in the other. Measurements included radiative heat flux to the ceiling and the floor, temperatures within the depth of the CLT and the mass loss of the panels. Results show the initial peak rate of heat release with the exposed CLT was up to three times greater when compared with the non-combustible lining. As char formed, this stabilised at approximately one and a half times that of the non-combustible lining. Premature char fall-off (due to bond-line failure) was observed close to the burners in the CLT using standard polyurethane adhesive. However, both exposed CLT ceiling experiments underwent auto-extinction of flaming combustion once the burners were switched off. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Technical Forum for Fire Science Laboratory and Field Methods)
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18 pages, 2858 KiB  
Article
A Historical Perspective to Inform Strategic Planning for 2020 End-of-Year Wildland Fire Response Efforts
by Erin J. Belval, Karen C. Short, Crystal S. Stonesifer and David E. Calkin
Fire 2022, 5(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5020035 - 01 Mar 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4641
Abstract
A severe outbreak of wildfire across the US Pacific Coast during August 2020 led to persistent fire activity through the end of summer. In late September, Fire Weather Outlooks predicted higher than usual fire activity into the winter in parts of California, with [...] Read more.
A severe outbreak of wildfire across the US Pacific Coast during August 2020 led to persistent fire activity through the end of summer. In late September, Fire Weather Outlooks predicted higher than usual fire activity into the winter in parts of California, with concomitant elevated fire danger in the Southeastern US. To help inform the regional and national allocation of firefighting personnel and equipment, we developed visualizations of resource use during recent late season, high-demand analogs. Our visualizations provided an overview of the crew, engine, dozer, aerial resource, and incident management team usage by geographic area. While these visualizations afforded information that managers needed to support their decisions regarding resource allocation, they also revealed a potentially significant gap between resource demand and late-season availability that is only likely to increase over time due to lengthening fire seasons. This gap highlights the need for the increased assessment of suppression resource acquisition and allocation systems that, to date, have been poorly studied. Full article
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5 pages, 209 KiB  
Perspective
Wildfires in the Atomic Age: Mitigating the Risk of Radioactive Smoke
by Christine Eriksen
Fire 2022, 5(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5010002 - 26 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 7412
Abstract
This Perspective highlights the lingering consequences of nuclear disasters by examining the risks posed by wildfires that rerelease radioactive fallout originally deposited into the environment by accidents at nuclear power plants or testing of nuclear weapons. Such wildfires produce uncontainable, airborne, and hazardous [...] Read more.
This Perspective highlights the lingering consequences of nuclear disasters by examining the risks posed by wildfires that rerelease radioactive fallout originally deposited into the environment by accidents at nuclear power plants or testing of nuclear weapons. Such wildfires produce uncontainable, airborne, and hazardous smoke, which potentially carries radioactive material, thus becoming the specter of the original disaster. As wildfires occur more frequently with climate change and land use changes, nuclear wildfires present a pressing yet little discussed problem among wildfire management and fire scholars. The problem requires urgent attention due to the risks it poses to the health and wellbeing of wildland firefighters, land stewards, and smoke-impacted communities. This Perspective explains the problem, outlines future research directions, suggests potential solutions, and underlines the broader benefits of mitigating the risks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Rethinking Wildland Fire Governance: A Series of Perspectives)
11 pages, 1207 KiB  
Perspective
Catastrophic Bushfires, Indigenous Fire Knowledge and Reframing Science in Southeast Australia
by Michael-Shawn Fletcher, Anthony Romano, Simon Connor, Michela Mariani and Shira Yoshi Maezumi
Fire 2021, 4(3), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4030061 - 09 Sep 2021
Cited by 46 | Viewed by 18648
Abstract
The catastrophic 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires were the worst fire season in the recorded history of Southeast Australia. These bushfires were one of several recent global conflagrations across landscapes that are homelands of Indigenous peoples, homelands that were invaded and colonised by European [...] Read more.
The catastrophic 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires were the worst fire season in the recorded history of Southeast Australia. These bushfires were one of several recent global conflagrations across landscapes that are homelands of Indigenous peoples, homelands that were invaded and colonised by European nations over recent centuries. The subsequent suppression and cessation of Indigenous landscape management has had profound social and environmental impacts. The Black Summer bushfires have brought Indigenous cultural burning practices to the forefront as a potential management tool for mitigating climate-driven catastrophic bushfires in Australia. Here, we highlight new research that clearly demonstrates that Indigenous fire management in Southeast Australia produced radically different landscapes and fire regimes than what is presently considered “natural”. We highlight some barriers to the return of Indigenous fire management to Southeast Australian landscapes. We argue that to adequately address the potential for Indigenous fire management to inform policy and practice in managing Southeast Australian forest landscapes, scientific approaches must be decolonized and shift from post-hoc engagement with Indigenous people and perspectives to one of collaboration between Indigenous communities and scientists. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Rethinking Wildland Fire Governance: A Series of Perspectives)
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23 pages, 2112 KiB  
Article
Facilitating Prescribed Fire in Northern California through Indigenous Governance and Interagency Partnerships
by Tony Marks-Block and William Tripp
Fire 2021, 4(3), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4030037 - 16 Jul 2021
Cited by 46 | Viewed by 13338
Abstract
Prescribed burning by Indigenous people was once ubiquitous throughout California. Settler colonialism brought immense investments in fire suppression by the United States Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CAL FIRE) to protect timber and structures, effectively limiting prescribed [...] Read more.
Prescribed burning by Indigenous people was once ubiquitous throughout California. Settler colonialism brought immense investments in fire suppression by the United States Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CAL FIRE) to protect timber and structures, effectively limiting prescribed burning in California. Despite this, fire-dependent American Indian communities such as the Karuk and Yurok peoples, stalwartly advocate for expanding prescribed burning as a part of their efforts to revitalize their culture and sovereignty. To examine the political ecology of prescribed burning in Northern California, we coupled participant observation of prescribed burning in Karuk and Yurok territories (2015–2019) with 75 surveys and 18 interviews with Indigenous and non-Indigenous fire managers to identify political structures and material conditions that facilitate and constrain prescribed fire expansion. Managers report that interagency partnerships have provided supplemental funding and personnel to enable burning, and that decentralized prescribed burn associations facilitate prescribed fire. However, land dispossession and centralized state regulations undermine Indigenous and local fire governance. Excessive investment in suppression and the underfunding of prescribed fire produces a scarcity of personnel to implement and plan burns. Where Tribes and local communities have established burning infrastructure, authorities should consider the devolution of decision-making and land repatriation to accelerate prescribed fire expansion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Rethinking Wildland Fire Governance: A Series of Perspectives)
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15 pages, 1149 KiB  
Article
Factors Associated with Structure Loss in the 2013–2018 California Wildfires
by Alexandra D. Syphard and Jon E. Keeley
Fire 2019, 2(3), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2030049 - 02 Sep 2019
Cited by 47 | Viewed by 14385
Abstract
Tens of thousands of structures and hundreds of human lives have been lost in recent fire events throughout California. Given the potential for these types of wildfires to continue, the need to understand why and how structures are being destroyed has taken on [...] Read more.
Tens of thousands of structures and hundreds of human lives have been lost in recent fire events throughout California. Given the potential for these types of wildfires to continue, the need to understand why and how structures are being destroyed has taken on a new level of urgency. We compiled and analyzed an extensive dataset of building inspectors’ reports documenting homeowner mitigation practices for more than 40,000 wildfire-exposed structures from 2013–2018. Comparing homes that survived fires to homes that were destroyed, we investigated the role of defensible space distance, defensive actions, and building structural characteristics, statewide and parsed into three broad regions. Overall, structural characteristics explained more of a difference between survived and destroyed structures than defensible space distance. The most consistently important structural characteristics—having enclosed eaves, vent screens, and multi-pane windows—were those that potentially prevented wind-born ember penetration into structures, although multi-pane windows are also known to protect against radiant heat. In the North-Interior part of the state, active firefighting was the most important reason for structure survival. Overall, the deviance explained for any given variable was relatively low, suggesting that other factors need to be accounted for to understand the full spectrum of structure loss contributors. Furthermore, while destroyed homes were preferentially included in the study, many “fire-safe” structures, having > 30 m defensible space or fire-resistant building materials, were destroyed. Thus, while mitigation may play an important role in structure survival, additional strategies should be considered to reduce future structure loss. Full article
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24 pages, 13897 KiB  
Article
Severe Fire Danger Index: A Forecastable Metric to Inform Firefighter and Community Wildfire Risk Management
by W. Matt Jolly, Patrick H. Freeborn, Wesley G. Page and Bret W. Butler
Fire 2019, 2(3), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2030047 - 27 Aug 2019
Cited by 36 | Viewed by 34150
Abstract
Despite major advances in numerical weather prediction, few resources exist to forecast wildland fire danger conditions to support operational fire management decisions and community early-warning systems. Here we present the development and evaluation of a spatial fire danger index that can be used [...] Read more.
Despite major advances in numerical weather prediction, few resources exist to forecast wildland fire danger conditions to support operational fire management decisions and community early-warning systems. Here we present the development and evaluation of a spatial fire danger index that can be used to assess historical events, forecast extreme fire danger, and communicate those conditions to both firefighters and the public. It uses two United States National Fire Danger Rating System indices that are related to fire intensity and spread potential. These indices are normalized, combined, and categorized based on a 39-yr climatology (1979–2017) to produce a single, categorical metric called the Severe Fire Danger Index (SFDI) that has five classes; Low, Moderate, High, Very High, and Severe. We evaluate the SFDI against the number of newly reported wildfires and total area burned from agency fire reports (1992–2017) as well as daily remotely sensed numbers of active fire pixels and total daily fire radiative power for large fires (2003–2016) from the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) across the conterminous United States. We show that the SFDI adequately captures geographic and seasonal variations of fire activity and intensity, where 58% of the eventual area burned reported by agency fire records, 75.2% of all MODIS active large fire pixels, and 81.2% of all fire radiative power occurred when the SFDI was either Very High or Severe (above the 90th percentile). We further show that SFDI is a strong predictor of firefighter fatalities, where 97 of 129 (75.2%) burnover deaths from 1979 to 2017 occurred when SFDI was either Very High or Severe. Finally, we present an operational system that uses short-term, numerical weather predictions to produce daily SFDI forecasts and show that 76.2% of all satellite active fire detections during the first 48 h following the ignition of nine high-profile case study fires in 2017 and 2018 occurred under Very High or Severe SFDI conditions. The case studies indicate that the extreme weather events that caused tremendous damage and loss of life could be mapped ahead of time, which would allow both wildland fire managers and vulnerable communities additional time to prepare for potentially dangerous conditions. Ultimately, this simple metric can provide critical decision support information to wildland firefighters and fire-prone communities and could form the basis of an early-warning system that can improve situational awareness and potentially save lives. Full article
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10 pages, 1190 KiB  
Article
We’re Not Doing Enough Prescribed Fire in the Western United States to Mitigate Wildfire Risk
by Crystal A. Kolden
Fire 2019, 2(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2020030 - 29 May 2019
Cited by 121 | Viewed by 40233
Abstract
Prescribed fire is one of the most widely advocated management practices for reducing wildfire hazard and has a long and rich tradition rooted in indigenous and local ecological knowledge. The scientific literature has repeatedly reported that prescribed fire is often the most effective [...] Read more.
Prescribed fire is one of the most widely advocated management practices for reducing wildfire hazard and has a long and rich tradition rooted in indigenous and local ecological knowledge. The scientific literature has repeatedly reported that prescribed fire is often the most effective means of achieving such goals by reducing fuels and wildfire hazard and restoring ecological function to fire-adapted ecosystems in the United States (US) following a century of fire exclusion. This has translated into calls from scientists and policy experts for more prescribed fire, particularly in the Western US, where fire activity has escalated in recent decades. The annual extent of prescribed burning in the Western US remained stable or decreased from 1998 to 2018, while 70% of all prescribed fire was completed primarily by non-federal entities in the Southeastern US. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was the only federal agency to substantially increase prescribed fire use, potentially associated with increased tribal self-governance. This suggests that the best available science is not being adopted into management practices, thereby further compounding the fire deficit in the Western US and the potential for more wildfire disasters. Full article
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