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

Spot fires: fuel bed flammability and capability of firebrands to ignite fuel beds

Anne Ganteaume A D , Corinne Lampin-Maillet A , Mercedes Guijarro B , Carmen Hernando B , Marielle Jappiot A , Teresa Fonturbel C , Pedro Pérez-Gorostiaga C and José A. Vega C
+ Author Affliations
- Author Affliations

A Cemagref UR EMAX, 3275 Route de Cézanne, CS 40061, F-13182 Aix-en-Provence, France.

B Centro de Investigación Forestal, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria, Ctra de La Coruña km 7, E-28040 Madrid, Spain.

C Departamento de Protección Ambiental, Centro de Investigación Forestal de Lourizán, Xunta de Galicia, E-36080 Pontevedra, Spain.

D Corresponding author. Email: anne.ganteaume@cemagref.fr

International Journal of Wildland Fire 18(8) 951-969 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF07111
Submitted: 6 August 2007  Accepted: 24 March 2009   Published: 9 December 2009

Abstract

A series of tests were conducted under laboratory conditions to assess, first, the capacity of several fuel beds to be ignited by firebrands and to sustain a fire and, second, the capability of different types of firebrands to ignite fuel beds. Fuel beds and firebrands were selected among the most common in southern Europe. Regarding fuel bed flammability, results show that grasses are more flammable than litter and, among litters, Pinus species are the most flammable. The increase in bulk density and fuel moisture content involves an increase in the time to ignition, and a decrease in the other flammability parameters. The capability of firebrands to ignite fuel beds is higher when the firebrands drop in the flaming phase and with no air flow than in glowing phase with air flow. Logistic regression models to predict fuel bed ignition probability were developed. As a whole, results show a relationship between ignition probability of fuel bed and type or weight of firebrands. Pinus pinaster cone scale, P. halepensis cone scale, and Eucalyptus globulus leaf and bark can have ignition probabilities at least twice higher than pine bark when falling while in flaming combustion.

Additional keywords: ember, ignition probability, spotting, wildfire.


Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the European Commission, Directorate General XII for Science, Research and Development, IV Environment and Climate Framework Research and Development Program SALTUS ENV98-CT98–0701.


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A An oblique air flow of ~45° to the tray holding the fuel bed was selected because it was the minimum angle that avoided the air flow blowing the fuel particles off the aluminium tray. A later modification of the experimental device allowed conducting tests with a horizontal air flow.

B Bulk density not varying within a same type of fuel bed, it was not possible to carry out a logistic regression analysis of the ignition probability for each type of fuel bed. Thus, the various litter beds were merged to solve this problem.

C It is important to stress that, in the present work, RoS is the time required by the fire to reach one side of the sample, corresponding to a distance of 0.35 m with no wind.


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