2013 ASPRS Track, Modeling the Time Until a Wildfire Arrives by Mark McLean


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In the event of a wildfire, accurate evacuation planning information can have a huge impact on life safety. Traditional fire behavior prediction tools require information (such as an origin or an up-to-the-minute location of the flaming front) to run simulations. Often, this information is not readily available in the chaotic environment surrounding the initial response to a wildfire. Planning for a wildfire event is only effective if it is flexible, taking into account a variety of contingencies (fire location, weather conditions, etc.) from the start. This type of flexibility is not common in standard pre-planning practices. Time Until Fire Arrival (TUFA) is a new GIS tool, designed as an ArcMap ModelBuilder product, to map the shortest potential time it would take a fire to reach a pre-determined value-at-risk or area of concern, regardless of where it ignites on the landscape. TUFA takes the form of a map with isochrones (lines of equal time) depicting the time until a fire will arrive. This tool can be used in multiple ways including determining trigger points for evacuation or production stoppage (for the oil/gas or mining industry). The presentation will address the background, technical challenges, potential uses and future directions for TUFA.

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2013 ASPRS Track, Modeling the Time Until a Wildfire Arrives by Mark McLean

  1. 1. Time Until Fire Arrival (TUFA) modeling Mark McLean, Ph.D. October 9, 2013
  2. 2. Anchor Point Company Profile • Wildfire hazard and risk mitigation – solutions from pre-planning through mitigation management • Company formed by firefighters • Clients both private and government – – – – • • • • Other consulting firms Home owner associations Fire departments Local, State and Federal Government Hazard and risk assessments Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) Fuel treatment project management National Hazard and Risk Model (No-HARM)
  3. 3. Background • Important for many reasons to know when a potential fire will arrive – Suppression trigger points – Evacuation concerns – Production shutdown (oil and gas) • • Excellent fire behavior modeling tools available (FlamMap, FARSITE, BehavePlus) but none appropriate for this particular task Fire rate of spread is available – why not turn this into time? http://news.yahoo.com/thousands-flee-colo-wildfire-92homes-destroyed-084723709.html http://www.isciencetimes.com/articles/5392/20130612/colorado-firesforce-2-000-homes-4.htm
  4. 4. TUFA – What is it? • Modeling technique that makes lines of equal time (isochrones) for a fire to arrive at a given location • Works for fires located anywhere on the map • Worst case scenario – Wind blowing toward focus area – 97th percentile weather scenario (adjustable) – Shortest time until fire arrives
  5. 5. Methodology Overview • Prepare input data – Fuel (LANDFIRE) – Weather – Topography • • • • • • Run FlamMap Export Rate of Spread Convert to time Adjust for vectoring Run cost distance Visualize outputs
  6. 6. Fire Behavior Modeling Fuel Weather Topography Flame Length Rate of Spread Crown Fire
  7. 7. Model Builder • Great for nonprogrammers! • Visual nature makes it easy to follow • Readily available in basic ArcMap • Once built, the model can be run quickly • NOT magic (see next slide)
  8. 8. Challenges • Vectoring – Reconciling wind and slope direction – Cyclic nature of directional data • Input data – Projection is crucial – Input data are sometimes cranky (focus as point vs. polygon)
  9. 9. Limitations • Only takes flaming front into account (not spotting/embering) • Worst case scenario might be too extreme • Difficult to relate model conditions to those experienced on the particular day of a fire jalcornphoto.photoshelter.com
  10. 10. Case Study 1 – Future Housing Development • Access route as focus • Mostly one way in and out • Negotiations with county for mitigation requirements – Second access road? – Landscape fuel treatment? – Treat fuel along road?
  11. 11. Case Study 2 • Theme park with a large number of visitors • Aerial tram as main access • Shelter-in-place vs. full scale evacuation (depends on time)
  12. 12. Future Directions/Applications • Other disasters? • Better handling of slope • Address multiple source problem • Refine fire behavior modeling http://www.listal.com/list/pets-steal-show
  13. 13. Questions or Comments? ? http://www.jimmyfungus.com/2012/11/epic-facepalm-compilation-most-epic.html