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Title: Wildfire risk in the wildland-urban interface: A simulation study in northwestern Wisconsin

Author: Bar Massada, Avi; Radeloff, Volker C.; Stewart, Susan I.; Hawbaker, Todd J.;

Date: 2009

Source: Ecology and Management. 258: 1990-1999.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: The rapid growth of housing in and near the wildland-urban interface (WUI) increases wildfire risk to lives and structures. To reduce fire risk, it is necessary to identify WUI housing areas that are more susceptible to wildfire. This is challenging, because wildfire patterns depend on fire behavior and spread, which in turn depend on ignition locations, weather conditions, the spatial arrangement of fuels, and topography. The goal of our study was to assess wildfire risk to a 60,000 ha WUI area in northwestern Wisconsin while accounting for all of these factors. We conducted 6000 simulations with two dynamic fire models: Fire Area Simulator (FARSITE) and Minimum Travel Time (MTT) in order to map the spatial pattern of burn probabilities. Simulations were run under normal and extreme weather conditions to assess the effect of weather on fire spread, burn probability, and risk to structures. The resulting burn probability maps were intersected with maps of structure locations and land cover types. The simulations revealed clear hotspots of wildfire activity and a large range of wildfire risk to structures in the study area.

Keywords: fire risk, fire spread, FARSITE, MTT, simulation modeling, WUI

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Bar Massada, Avi; Radeloff, Volker C.; Stewart, Susan I.; Hawbaker, Todd J. 2009. Wildfire risk in the wildland-urban interface: A simulation study in northwestern Wisconsin. Forest Ecology and Management. 258: 1990-1999.


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