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

Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

Fuel and topographic influences on wildland firefighter burnover fatalities in Southern California

Wesley Page , Bret Butler


Previous reviews of wildfires where a fatal firefighter burnover occurred have found that the incidents usually share similar characteristics in terms of the fire environment, such as steep slopes and complex topography (e.g. box canyons). Despite these similarities, systematic identification and communication of the locations where these conditions prevail are relatively rare. In this study we used a presence-only machine learning algorithm (Maximum Entropy) coupled with spatial location information from past fatal firefighter burnovers to identify and characterize the environmental variables that are likely to produce conditions suitable for a fatal burnover. Southern California was chosen to conduct the analysis as it has a relatively well documented history of past fatal firefighter burnovers and a complex fire environment. Steep, southwest-oriented slopes located in canyons with a shrub fuel type were found to be the most dangerous locations for firefighters. The relative danger to firefighters from a fatal burnover is described and summarized at both the 30-m pixel and local watershed scale.

WF17147  Accepted 20 January 2018

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