Main content area

A fire modeling approach to assess wildfire exposure of valued resources in central Navarra, Spain

Alcasena, Fermín J., Salis, Michele, Vega-García, Cristina
European journal of forest research 2016 v.135 no.1 pp. 87-107
algorithms, assets, fire intensity, fire weather, fuels, fuels (fire ecology), lidar, monitoring, quantitative risk assessment, risk, simulation models, topography, wildfires, Spain
Wildfires are a growing threat to socioeconomic and natural resources in the wildland–rural–urban intermix in central Navarra (Spain), where recent fast-spreading and spotting short fire events have overwhelmed suppression capabilities. A fire simulation modeling approach based on the minimum travel time algorithm was used to analyze the wildfire exposure of highly valued resources and assets (HVRAs) in a 28,000 ha area. We replicated 30,000 fires at fine resolution (20 m), based on wildfire season and recent fire weather and moisture conditions, historical ignition patterns and spatially explicit canopy fuels derived from low-density airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR). Detailed maps of simulated fire likelihood, fire intensity and fire size were used to assess spatial patterns of HVRA exposure to fire and to analyze large fire initiation and spread through source-sink ratio and fire potential index. Crown fire activity was estimated and used to identify potential spotting-emission hazardous stands. The results revealed considerable variation in fire risk causative factors among and within HVRAs. Exposure levels across HVRAs were mainly related to the combined effects of anthropic ignition locations, fuels, topography and weather conditions. We discuss the potential of fire management strategies such as prioritizing mitigation treatment and fire ignition prevention monitoring, informed by fine-scale geospatial quantitative risk assessment outcomes.