Research Paper RMRS-RP-9
Fire Behavior Associated with the 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, Colorado

Appendix A: Glossary

Backing fire--Fire spreading into the wind or downslope.

Bench--Topographical feature characterized as an area on a slope that is approximately level or at least significantly more so than the surrounding terrain.

Blowup--A rapid transition from a surface fire exhibiting relatively low intensity, to a fire burning in the whole vegetation complex, surface to canopy, and demonstrating dramatically larger flame heights, higher energy release rates, and faster rates of spread.

Crown fire--A fire that burns through the entire vegetation canopy. It may or may not include a surface fire burning through the dead leaves and litter near the ground surface.

Drainage--Topographical feature that is a deep gulley, draw, or valley.

Fire front--Usually refers to the leading edge of the fire, but may also include any part of the flaming perimeter of a fire.

Fireline--A fire control line formed by removing surface litter and organic matter to expose mineral soil. Often appears much like a rough narrow trail.

Flareup--A relatively short duration sudden increase in fire intensity or rate of spread over a small area. Usually involves one or a small group of trees or shrubs.

Foliar--Pertains to leaves or stems in vegetation canopy. Often used in the term "foliar moisture content."

Head fire--A fire spreading with the wind, or upslope, or both.

Helitack--In this report the term applies to the firefighters that perform helicopter management and attack activities.

Hotspot--A small ignition often due to burning or smoldering debris rolling down hill across a fireline. This can also mean to patrol along a fireline looking for burning debris and embers that have crossed the fireline.

Hotshot--Intensively trained fire personnel, usually assembled in 20-person teams and especially noted for their effectiveness in building fireline.

Intensity--In the general sense intensity implies the size of the flames, the fire's spread rate, and the rate of energy released from the fire.

Plume--This term refers to the smoke column produced by a fire.

Reburn--Fire burning through an area that has previously burned but still includes some flammable fuel.

Shear layer--Meteorological phenomenon generated at the intersection of two air masses flowing in different directions. The location in space where these masses interact is subject to viscous shear stresses. These stresses can generate severe turbulence.

Slopover--Fire crossing a fireline or some other barrier to fire spread.

Spot fire--A small fire ignited by burning or smoldering debris that has been lofted into the air above a larger burning fire and then redistributed over the ground, often ahead of a fire front.

Spur ridge--A small ridge extending from a larger much more prominent main ridge.

Stob--A stake or stump of a shrub or small tree left after the upper portion of the plant has been removed by cutting or burning.

Surface fire--Fire burning in the litter and organic debris on or near the ground.

Torching--The rapid intense burning from the ground up through the canopy in a single or small group of trees or shrubs. Similar to a flareup.

Transition--The change from fire burning in one fuel stratum to another along with associated change in intensity. Most often refers to the change from a relatively low intensity surface fire exhibiting slow spread rates and low energy release to one burning with much higher intensities, faster spread rates, and higher energy release rates.

Venturi effect--This term refers to the increase in velocity of a stream of gas or liquid as it passes from one area through another area of smaller size or diameter. Conversely, if the area through which the stream is passing becomes larger, the velocity of the stream will decrease.

Main Page | Executive Summary | The Authors, Acknowledgements, and Preface
Introduction | Fire Behavior Overview | Fire Environment | Fire Chronology | Fire Behavior Discussion
Conclusions | References | App. A | App. B | App. C | Abstract | About RMRS
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Title: Appendix A: Glossary: RMRS-RP-9 - Fire Behavior Associated with the 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, Colorado
Publish Date: February 5, 1999
Last Update:
December 22, 2005

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