Prescription development for burning two volatile fuel types
Racher, Brent J.
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Prescribed burning is used to manipulate vegetation worldwide. However, the practice carries an inherent danger because fires can escape and/or harm people. These studies were initiated to evaluate fire behavior and firebrand spotting potential for two volatile fuel types in which prescribed burning is being used. The first fuel type was saltcedar. Saltcedar stands carried crown fires and exhibited erratic fire behavior if they had not been burned before. Saltcedar that had been burned recently carried a fire through the fine, surface fuels. Differences in fire behavior occurred when saltcedar were burned at different phenologic stages. Spotting potential of firebrands from saltcedar fires was found up to 152 m and 163 m downwind for areas that had and had not been burned recently, respectively. The second fuel type was juniper/oak communities in Texas. Historically, prescriptions for burning during the late winter/early spring have been used. Recently, burning at higher temperatures mostly during the summer is becoming popular in this region. Behavior of some these fires exhibited alarmingly high rates of spread. Surprisingly, firebrands for many fires in this fuel type often were absent. However, firebrands were collected 152 m downwind from headfires. The volatility and conditions under which both of these communities have been and are being burned require that fire managers monitor more information than we have in the past. Variables such as 10-hr timelag fuel moisture, live fuel moisture, and the ability of personnel to perform under strenuous conditions need to be considered. Additionally, for these fuel types, installation of blacklines downwind of the fire at least 152 m and up to 213 m wide is critical to minimize the spotting potential from prescribed fires.