USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

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United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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FERA Research Update November 2012

This FERA Research Update is intended to provide the fire management and fire science communities with information about current research conducted by the Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team (FERA).

To subscribe, visit or contact Ellen Eberhardt at (541)750-7481,

arrowRxCADRE Experimental Burn Landmark for Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Research

As Hurricane Sandy focused on the mid-Atlantic, fortune favored fire researchers in northwestern Florida. At least 90 people -- researchers, field crews, and burn crews – gathered and successfully conducted 5 days of research prescribed burns on Eglin Air Force Base over a period of several weeks. Leading this complex project was the principle investigator, FERA’s Roger Ottmar. The culmination of years of planning, these RxCADRE burns were heavily instrumented to allow simultaneous collection of fire behavior, fire effects, meteorological, and remotely-sensed data, along with prefire and postfire fuels characterization. The resulting datasets will offer opportunities to study the interactions between various fuels, fire, and smoke research disciplines.

The focus of 2 small burns (of 3 replicates each) was fire behavior and effects measurements, and the larger units included a smoke and remote-sensing focus. Infrared data was collected at all scales, with 3 unmanned aerial vehicles and 2 planes scanning the scene at altitudes up to 10,000 feet, exceeded only by satellite views.

Lead scientists were Roger Ottmar (fuels), Bret Butler (fire behavior), Joe O’Brien (fire effects), Craig Clemens (micrometeorology), Brian Potter (smoke), and Matt Dickinson (remote infrared). Eglin Air Force Base’s Jackson Guard provided the operational support, led by Brett Williams. Participating institutions and agencies are too numerous to acknowledge here. In addition to resources contributed by participants, the Joint Fire Science Program contributed funding through Project  #11-2-1-22.

Link to Eglin AFB article

Link to RxCADRE website

Link to Joint Fire Science Program Project


Second Season of Pile Burning Finishes in Damp Weather

Skies cleared just long enough for the FERA and Forest Guild crews to complete the third of six treatments in the JFSP-funded experiment to examine the effects of burning piles of different ages in different seasons. Abnormally dry fall weather and wildfires in Washington turned wet almost overnight, but a short break in the wet weather allowed us to burn piles at the Washington site on November 1. 

FERA cooperator Zander Evans was able to acquire permission from the Governor’s office to burn the piles at the New Mexico site in coordination with the fire crew from the Santa Clara Pueblo on November 15. The next burning treatment will occur in the spring of 2013. Preliminary data and results from this study will be presented at the 5th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress in Portland, OR this December.


arrowTexas Research Burns to Include WUI Component

This coming January, FERA will once again collaborate with the National Institute of Standards and Technology back down south in Texas. Four small research burns will be conducted in grass fuels very near the town of Bastrop, whic lost over 1600 homes to wildfire this last fall. In addition to gathering data on fuels, fire behavior, and wind, roo at the end of each plot will be set aside to test optimal widths for berms built to protect homes from fire. These mark the beginning of instrumented experiments on how fire may move from wildlands into communities – in this case, by looking at what fire and wind conditions would cause a fire to jump a bare berm around a community or home and light the grasses on the other side.

FERA’s Alex Maranghides (NIST) and Ruddy Mell lead this experiment with assistance from the Texas Forest Service, University of San Diego, and the FERA field crew. FERA and NIST are working jointly at reducing losses from WUI fires. The joint research effort includes fire behavior computer model development and validation, field studies including post fire case studies and laboratory research on vegetative and structure ignitions.

Link to paper about 2011 WUI Fires in Amaraillo, TX

Link to case study of 2007 Witch and Guejito Fires

Link to information on the Wildland-Urban Fire Dynamics Simulator


arrowSurface Fuel Treatments in Young, Regenerating Stands Affect Wildfire Severity in a Mixed Conifer Forest, Eastern Cascade Range, Washington, USA

Evaluations of fuel treatment effects in regenerating plantation mixed-conifer forests in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest were conducted after the 2006 Tripod Complex Fires. Overall, results suggest that young stands in some dry mixed conifer forests can be resilient to wildifire if surface fuel loading is low upon stand establishment. Read more about the topic in the journal Forest Ecology and Management. Authors are the University of Washington's Christina Lyons-Tinsley and FERA's David L. Peterson.


arrowNote to VSMOKE and FCCS Users

The information technology world marches on, and occasionally FERA software no longer works as smoothly as it did in older environments.  If you have recently experienced problems with either of these situations, information on getting around them has been posted at these links:

FCCS for Users of Java 7.0

FEPS for Users of VSMOKE

The soon-to-be-released Fire and Fuels Application (FFA) should solve many of these types of problems because it runs on the Internet and no program installation is necessary. It includes FCCC, Consume, and FEPS in one seamless program.



U.S. Forest Service - PNW- FERA
Last Modified: Tuesday, 25 February 2014 at 13:04:08 CST

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