International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Time since prior wildfire affects subsequent fire containment in black spruce

Jennifer L. Beverly
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

Department of Renewable Resources, 751 General Services Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H1, Canada. Email: jen.beverly@ualberta.ca

International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(11) 919-929 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF17051
Submitted: 16 March 2017  Accepted: 8 August 2017   Published: 27 October 2017

Abstract

In black spruce forests characterised by high-intensity crown fires, early detection and containment of fires while they are small is crucial for averting progression to fire intensities that exceed suppression capabilities. Fire behaviour conditions encountered during initial attack operations are a key determinant of containment success. Conditions will be controlled in part by stand structural characteristics that can be expected to vary as a fire-origin black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) stand ages with increasing time-since-fire. In this study, the influence of time-since-fire on containment outcomes is assessed to explore whether or not prior wildfire exerts a negative feedback on subsequent fires in these ecosystems. Logistic regression analysis using point and polygon fire data for the province of Alberta, Canada, indicated the probability of a containment failure in black spruce increases with time-elapsed since the last fire. Other positive explanatory variables included the size of the fire at the initiation of firefighting and a relative rating of the expected rate of fire spread, the Initial Spread Index (ISI) of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System. Legacy wildfires had a protective effect. When firefighting is initiated at fire sizes ≤1 ha, the probability of a containment failure is low during the initial 20–45 years of post-fire stand development, except under the most extreme fire weather conditions.

Additional keywords: Alberta, boreal forest, Canada, crown fires, escaped fire, fine fuels, fire behaviour, fire intensity, fire management, fire suppression, fuel load, fuel management, fuel model, fuel moisture, initial attack, North America, Picea mariana, stand-age, surface fuels, time-since-fire.


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