Understanding where and how a wildfire is likely to burn saves lives and money, and allows decisionmakers to strategically place fuel-reduction treatments in areas where they are most likely to modify fire behavior.
Fire behavior is influenced by weather, the amount and type of available fuel, and topography. These factors determine the intensity of the fire, how fast it will move, and in what direction. A dense, dry stand where dead branches litter the ground and vegetation and small trees create a continuous ladder of woody vegetation to the upper canopy will burn differently than a dry stand where mechanical thinning or a controlled, prescribed burn has reduced the amount of available fuel.
Scientists at the Pacific Northwest Research Station study different aspects of fire behavior. The information and tools based on this research are being used locally, nationally, and internationally to protect public health and manage for fire-resilient landscapes.