Several active fire signals were recorded by OSEI with the NOAA-14 POES AVHRR HRPT satellite on 15 February 2000 in Arkansas, Lousiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
Fig. 1. Scattered heat signatures and smoke plumes from areas of fire burning in the southeastern United States. Some of this activity may be due to controlled burn operations.
The Morning Report (15 February 2000) of the SOUTHERN AREA COORDINATION CENTER is a narrative summary of fire activity within the Southern Area including number of fires, wildfires as well as prescribed burns, and area. “Wildland fire activity was minimal yesterday in most areas due to the moisture received from the last front. However, Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas are expecting a busy week as temperatures warm up and windy and dry conditions persist. The weather through Wednesday will be dry and warm with temperatures between 20-30°C for much of the area. The next chance of precipitation will not be until Thursday at the earliest.
Mid-February is the beginning of Oklahomas spring fire season and it is expected to be busy the next 8 weeks for Oklahoma Division of Forestry Firefighters and Rural Fire Departments. Wildfire activity has increased substantially the past several days. The forecast for today calls for winds of 5-15 m.p.h., low relative humidity in the 30-45% range, and temperatures around 15°C. The next chance of rain is forecast for Wednesday or Thursday. In the Ouachita National Forest a helicopter 104HC was used for initial attack on a 2 hectare fire, making 17 bucket drops and delivering of 9200 liter of water.
The Wildland Fire Assessment System is a contribution of “The Fire Behavior Research Work Unit”, Missoula (Montana USA). The broad area component of the Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS) generated national maps of selected fire weather and fire danger components. Fire Danger (Potential) is a normalized adjective rating class across different fuel models and station locations. It is based on information provided by local station managers about the primary fuel model, fire danger index selected to reflect staffing level, and climatological class breakpoints. Low danger (class 1) is green and extreme potential (class 5) is red.
The Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System consists of six components that account for the effects of fuel moisture and wind on fire behavior. The first three components are fuel moisture codes that follow daily changes in the moisture contents of three classes of forest fuel with different drying rates. The last three components are fire behavior indexes, representing rate of spread, amount of available fuel, and fire intensity; their values increase as fire weather severity increases. For detailed information on the Florida Fire Management Information System the GFMC would like to refer to the original website.
According to the FFMIS for 15 February 2000 these parameters show various fire weather conditions over Florida.
Fine Fuel Moisture Code
Duff Moisture Code
Initial Spread Index
Fire Weather Index
Fig.4.-9. Output maps of the FFMIS, 15 February 2000
According to the INCIDENT MANAGEMENT SITUATION REPORT three categories of fires are distinguished, such as:
2. Prescribed Fires
3. Wildland Fire Use Fires**
* This classification corresponds to the category “wildland fires” as defined by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)
** A brief excursion to wildland fire terminology:
Wildland Fires: Fires occurring on any tpye of vegetation, regardless of ignition sources, damages or benefits.
Wildfire: Any uncontrolled wildland fire which (1) may require suppression response, or (2) any uncontrolled wildland fire which meets management objectives and is declared as a Wildland Fire Use Fire (see below) or syn. Prescribed Natural Fire or Prescribed Fire.
Prescribed Fire: Occasionally also called management-ignited fire, or prescribed burning, is a controlled application of fire to vegetation in either their natural or modified state, under specified environmental conditions which allow the fire to be confined to a predetermined area and at the same time to produce the intensity of heat and rate of spread required to attain planned resource management objectives.
Wildland Fire Use Fire: Naturally ignited fire which is managed to achieve resource benefits under close supervision (syn. Prescribed Natural Fire)
Currently, Wildland Fire Use Fire data are not available. The differentiation of the above mentioned three fire classes do not point out clearly for the moment, whether the classified wildland fires included prescribed burned areas.
Geographic AreaNumber of Wildland FiresArea Burned (ha) Alaska 0 0 Northwest 0 0 California 178 36 Northern Rockies 0 0 Eastern Great Basin 1 1.2 Western Great Basin 1 0.4 Southwest 103 3,178 Rocky Mountain 7 750 Eastern 24 161 Southern 4,052 26,841
Total United States
Tab.2. Prescribed fires and hectares year-to-date (11 February 2000)
(Source: Incident Management Situation Report)
Geographic AreaNumber of Prescribed FiresArea Burned (ha) Alaska 0 0 Northwest 3 590 California 40 914 Northern Rockies 0 0 Eastern Great Basin 3 11 Western Great Basin 0 0 Southwest 84 3,782 Rocky Mountain 0 0 Eastern 4 262 Southern 288 64,343
Total United States
Remarks on Prescribed Burning
At this time of the year prescribed burning operations are conducted routinely.
Fire is an important natural tool for ecosystem management. It can reduce dense vegetation improving wildlife habitat and lessening the potential for large, wildfire disasters. Land managers are directed to prepare a prescribed fire/burn plan for every area of public land that can burn. Some areas require total suppression while others will benefit from a wildland fire. Those areas that will benefit from a fire can be treated by a prescribed fire.
Especially, for the moment, in the southern and southeastern regions of the United States prescribed fire activities will be carried out in the following weeks and months. In this case, fire signals on satellite images can be traced back to this kind of land management activities.
In the Prescribed Fire Position Paper of the Forest Protection Bureau by the Division of Forestry in Florida, prescribed fire activity is described as a land management application that is essential to the practice of forestry, management of wildlife, preservation of endangered plant and animal species, improvement of range conditions and reduction of wildfire damage in the wildland/urban interface areas. While there is general public and landowner concern with increased smoke, reduced air quality, and liability; the general public and landowners benefit significantly from the reduction of devastating wildfire, improved wildlife habitat and forage, preservation of endangered and threatened plant and animal species, and improved management of forest resources. The prospect of severe reductions in the utilization of this management tool is of major concern to Florida’s natural resource managers and conservationists due to the subsequent loss of derived public and private benefits. They suggest the need for legislative attention.