In wildfire science, spotting refers to non-local creation of new fires, due to downwind ignition of brands launched from a primary fire. Spotting is often mentioned as being one of the most difficult problems for wildfire management, because of its unpredictable nature. Since spotting is a stochastic process, it makes sense to talk about a probability distribution for spotting, which we call the spotting distribution
. Given a location ahead of the fire front, we would like to know how likely is it to observe a spot fire at that location in the next few minutes. The aim of this paper is to introduce a detailed procedure to find the spotting distribution. Most prior modelling has focused on the maximum spotting distance, or on physical subprocesses. We will use mathematical modelling, which is based on detailed physical processes, to derive a spotting distribution. We discuss the use and measurement of this spotting distribution in fire spread, fire management and fire breaching. The appendix of this paper contains a comprehensive review of the relevant underlying physical sub-processes of fire plumes, launching fire brands, wind transport, falling and terminal velocity, combustion during transport, and ignition upon landing.
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