Forest Fires in the United States: 8 March 2000

Forest Fires in the United States

8 March 2000

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) generates 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.

click to enlarge (28 KB) click here to enlarge (25 KB)

Fig. 1. & 2. Fire Danger Forecast Maps of the United States for 7 March (observation time) and 8 March (forecast) 2000
(Source: Fire Behavior Research Work Unit, Missoula)

Several active fire signals were recorded by OSEI with the NOAA-14  POES AVHRR HRPT satellite on 7 March 2000 in the southeastern US.

click to enlarge (611 KB) click to enlarge (516 KB)

Fig.3 & 4. Heat signatures and smoke plumes from areas of fire burning in the southeastern United States, 7 March 2000. Some of this activity may be due to controlled burn operations.
(Source: NOAA/OSEI)

The Florida 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 (FFMIS) the GFMC would like to refer to the original website.
According to the FFMIS for 7 March these parameters show various fire weather conditions for Florida.

click here to enlarge (approx. 60 KB) click to enlarge (approx. 60 KB) click to enlarge (approx. 60 KB)

Fine Fuel Moisture Code

Duff Moisture Code

Drought Code

click to enlarge (approx. 60 KB) click to enlarge (approx. 60 KB) click to enlarge (approx. 64 KB)

Initial Spread Index

Buildup Index

Fire Weather Index

Fig.5.-10.  Output maps of the FFMIS, 7 March 2000
(source: Florida Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System)

The Southern Area Coordination Center Morning Report (7 March 2000) is a narrative summary of fire activity within the Southern Area including number of fires, wildfires as well as prescribed burns, and area. (For detailed numbers of wildfires and prescribed burns, please refer to the original website of the report.)

Southern Area Coordination Center (GA-SAC): Activity moderated some yesterday with very few new resources ordered. Work continued filling existing orders for Florida and Kentucky. The Asheville Hot Shots are assigned to the Star Gap Fire on the Daniel Boone National Forest. Tankers made retardant drops in Kentucky on the Star Gap Fire.
Temperatures will be in the 80’s (26-32C°) today for most of the Southern Area. Central Texas and Oklahoma will be the only areas with precipitation in the forecast. Strong thunderstorms are expected in Texas and Oklahoma; the possibility exists of tornadoes and large hail. Windy conditions will both lead and trail the front as it moves across today.
The forecast calls for the front to move slowly east tomorrow with strong storms expected in Arkansas and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and eastern Texas. Thursday the system will move into the eastern portion of the area bringing scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Alabama Interagency Coordination Center (AL-AIC): Forecast for today is temperatures in the low 80’s (25-28 °C) with relative humidity in the 25 to 30% range. Baldwin and Mobile Counties in southwest Alabama have been placed under a fire alert that went into effect Tuesday, March 7, 2000 at 0730 hrs.
National Forest in Alabama (AL-ALF): The Oakmulgee Ranger District plans to do a prescription burn on March 7/8, 2000. The burn is planned
for approximately 6,000 acres (2,428 ha) and will be ignited by aerial ignition.
Arkansas/Oklahoma Interagency Coordination Center (AR-AOC): A chance of rain and strong thunderstorms is forecasted for Oklahoma and Texas on Wednesday and Thursday.
Florida Division of Forestry (FL-FLS): The Benton Tower Fire is 50% contained at 5,500 acres (2225 ha)  with 2,000 acres (810 ha) on the Osceola National Forest and 3,500 acres (1,416 ha) burning on private lands managed by the State of Florida. The fire is burning in Impassable Bay which has rough terrain and is experiencing very dry conditions.
Daniel Boone National Forest (KY-DBF): The Star Gap Fire, on the Stanton Ranger District, is at 400 acres (182 ha). Burn out and mop up is scheduled for today. Two thousand gallons of retardant was dropped on the fire yesterday.
Louisiana Office of Forestry (LA-LAS): Louisiana State reported that two of the fires over the weekend were set using delayed incendiary devices some of which ignited during suppression activities.
Mississippi Interagency Coordination Center (MS-MIC): Outdoor burn ban is still suspended for the State, although no precipitation has been received.
South Carolina Interagency Coordination Center (SC-SCC): Fire danger is moderate to high statewide. Sunny weather forecasted through Wednesdaywith a chance of precipitation on Thursday.
Tennessee Interagency Coordination Center (TN-TNC): Temperatures are 15 to 20 degrees above normal with relative humidity in the 20’s. Fire danger is increasing statewide. Next chance of precipitation is Thursday.
Virginia Interagency Coordination Center (VA-VIC): At least three fires in Buchanan County in southwest Virginia are having control problems. A fire on the Virginia-Kentucky boarder is not staffed, but personnel are in route.

According to the Incident Management Situation Report three categories of fires are distinguished, such as:
1. Fires*
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)

Incident Management Situation Report (3 March 2000):

Current situation:
Fire activity increased this week in the Southern, Southwest, and Eastern Areas. The Southern Area reported four large fires during the past week in Texas, six in Oklahoma, and two in Florida. The Southwest Area reported three large fires, two in New Mexico and one in Arizona. Very high to extreme fire indices were reported in Arizona, Oklahoma, Virginia, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas.

A cold front with scattered showers will pass through Mississippi today, moving into northern and central Florida by late tonight and tomorrow. Northern and central Florida will be breezy over the weekend. Conditions in the southeast will be dry through next Thursday, when another front will reach Mississippi. Louisiana will remain dry throughout the week, except for a chance of showers Monday through Wednesday. High temperatures in the southeast will be in the 60s and 70s.
Texas and Oklahoma will be dry today and tomorrow. Sunday through Thursday will bring scattered showers and windy periods. Highs will be in the high 50s to 60s in the north, and 70s to 80s in the southern part of Texas.
Arizona and New Mexico will be dry today. Scattered showers will move through the northern portions of both states Sunday through Thursday. Windy conditions will accompany the showers at times. High temperatures will be in the 30s and 40s in the north, and 50s to 60s in the southern part of both states.

Tab.1 Fires and area burnt last week (3 March2000)
(Source: Incident Management Situation Report)

Geographic Area Number of Fires Area Burnt acre ha Alaska 0 0 0 Northwest 0 0 0 California 2     Northern Rockies 0 0 0 Eastern Great Basin 0 0 0 Western Great Basin 0 0 0 Southwest 20 7,478 3,026 Rocky Mountain 0 0 0 Eastern 6 237 96 Southern 1,745 45,294 18,330

Total United States

1,785 53,009 21,452

Tab.2. Fires and area burnt year-to-date (3 March 2000)
(Source: Incident Management Situation Report)

Geographic Area Number of Fires Area Burnt acre ha Alaska 0 0 0 Northwest 1 0 0 California 207 91 37 Northern Rockies 0 0 0 Eastern Great Basin 1 3 1,2 Western Great Basin 1 1 0,4 Southwest 336 111,968 45,312 Rocky Mountain 2 1,840 745 Eastern 35 756 306 Southern 9,743 193,781 78,420

Total United States

10,326 308,440 124,821

Tab.3.  Prescribed fires and area burnt year-to-date (3 March 2000)
(Source: Incident Management Situation Report)

Geographic Area Number of Prescribed Fires Area Burnt acre ha Alaska 0 0 0 Northwest 20 2,618 1,059 California 53 2,389 967 Northern Rockies 0 0 0 Eastern Great Basin 4 49 20 Western Great Basin 0 0 0 Southwest 338 21,267 8,606 Rocky Mountain 0 0 0 Eastern 11 2,646 1,071 Southern 497 257,042 104,021

Total United States

923 286,011 115,744

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.

Another report on nation-wide prescribed burning in the U.S.A. was published in  International Forest Fire News No.19 (September 1998).

A set of photographic documents on prescribed burning techniques and objectives in the Southeast can be visited in our photo archive.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien