FCE Distinguished Lecture on "Spot Fire Ignition in Wildland-Urban Interface"
Wildland and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fires are an important problem in many areas of the world and may have major consequences in terms of safety, air quality, and damage to buildings, infrastructure, and the ecosystem. It is expected that with climate changes the wildland fire and WUI fire problem will only intensify. The spot fire ignition of a wildland fire by hot metal fragments/sparks and firebrands is an important trigger for wildfires, WUI fires and industrial fires. Once the wildfire or structural fire has been ignited and grows, it can spread rapidly through ember-spotting, where pieces of burning material are lofted by the plume of the fire and then transported forward by the wind. Here an attempt has been made to summarize the state-of-the-art of the wildfire-spotting problem by describing the distinct individual processes involved in the problem and by discussing their know-how status. By characterizing these distinct individual processes, it is possible to attain the required information to develop predictive, physics-based wildfire-spotting models. Such spotting models, together with topographical maps and wind models, could be added to existing flame spread models to improve the predictive capabilities of landscape-scale wildland fire spread models. These enhanced wildland fire spread models would provide land managers and government agencies with better tools to prescribe preventive measures and fuel treatments before a fire, allocate suppression resources and issue evacuation orders during a fire.