Journal article

Effect of woody debris on the rate of spread of surface fires in forest fuels in a combustion wind tunnel

AL Sullivan, NC Surawski, D Crawford, RJ Hurley, L Volkova, CJ Weston, CP Meyer



The treatment of the contribution of woody debris (WD, such as branches or small logs >6–50 mm diameter) to the rate of forward spread of a fire in current operational forest fire spread models is inconsistent. Some models do not take into account this fuel at all (i.e. only consider the combustion of fine fuels (⩽6 mm diameter)), while others incorporate effects based on little or no data. An experimental programme utilising a large combustion wind tunnel investigated the effect of WD on the spread of fires burning through forest litter (surface fuel) beds of 1.0 kg m-2. Fires spreading with (heading) and against (backing) the wind were investigated. Three treatments of WD load (0.2, 0.6 an..

View full abstract


Funding Acknowledgements

Funding for this work was made available through the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. The authors thank Martin Cope of CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere for leading the overall project and Fabienne Reisen, Camila Trindade, Grant Edwards, Dean Howard, Stephen Wilson, Clare Murphy (nee Paton-Walsh), Elise-Andree Guerette, Maximilien Desservettaz, and Valentina Wheeler for their assistance during the experimental programme. We also thank Miguel Cruz and Lachie McCaw for valuable contributions in reviewing previous drafts of this article. N.C.S thanks Michael Battaglia and Sandra Eady for their support of this project.