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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-56
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-56
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Mar 2019

Research article | 01 Mar 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Fine scale assessment of cross boundary wildfire events in the Western US

Palaiologos Palaiologou1, Alan A. Ager2, Cody Evers3, Max Nielsen-Pincus3, Michelle Day4, and Haiganoush K. Preisler5 Palaiologos Palaiologou et al.
  • 1Forest Engineering, Resources & Management, College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, 97331, USA
  • 2USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, 59808, USA
  • 3Environmental Sciences and Management, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Portland State University, Portland, 97201, USA
  • 4Forest Ecosystems & Society, College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, 97331, USA
  • 5USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Albany, 94710, USA

Abstract. We report a fine scale assessment of cross-boundary wildfire events for the western US. We used simulation modeling to quantify the extent of fire exchange among major federal, state, and private land tenures and mapped locations where fire ignitions can potentially affect populated places. We examined how parcel size effects the wildfire transmission and partitioned the relative amounts of transmitted fire between human and natural ignitions. We estimated that almost 90 % of the total predicted wildfire activity as measured by area burned originates from four land tenures (Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, private and State lands) and 63 % of the total amount results from natural versus human ignitions. On average, one third of the area burned by predicted wildfires was non-local, meaning that the source ignition was on a different land tenure. Land tenures with smaller parcels tended to receive more incoming fire on a proportional basis, while the largest fires were generated from ignitions in national parks, national forests, public and tribal lands. Among the 11 western States, the amount and pattern of cross-boundary fire varied substantially in terms of which land tenures were mostly exposed, by whom and to what fire sizes. We also found spatial variability in terms of community exposure among States, and more than half of the predicted structure exposure was caused by ignitions on private lands or within the wildland-urban interface areas. This study addressed gaps in existing wildfire risk assessments, that do not explicitly consider cross-boundary fire transmission and do not identify the sources of fire. The results can be used by State, Federal, and local fire planning organizations to help improve risk mitigation programs.

Palaiologos Palaiologou et al.
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Short summary
For the 11 western US States we addressed gaps in existing wildfire risk assessments that do not explicitly considered cross-boundary fire transmission among major landowners and do not identify the sources of fire for the exposed communities. Stochastic wildfire simulation outputs were post-processed in a geo-spatial framework. Our methods can be implemented across different regions of the world to inform fire management agencies decisions on the locations of future fuel management projects.
For the 11 western US States we addressed gaps in existing wildfire risk assessments that do not...
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