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Unit 2: Fuels Classification

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Horizontal Continuity

The images below show an area of continuous fuels and an area of patchy or discontinuous fuels. If the open areas in the right-hand illustration are barren and void of any fuels, it will obviously be difficult for fire to travel from one fuel island to another. It would probably require a strong wind with spotting for fire to travel through such patchy fuels. Such fire situations do occur, and what might appear to be natural firebreaks or barriers may not stop a fire's spread.

Continuous Fuels Patchy
Fire In Open Stand Fire In Closed Stand

Before leaving horizontal continuity, we should consider other effects of a closed versus open timber canopy. A forest canopy not only shades surface fuels and prolongs moisture retention but also greatly reduces wind speeds from levels above the canopy to levels near the surface. Generally, the greater the crown closure, the greater the wind speed reduction. This certainly does have an effect on surface fires burning in these closed environments. If torching out of individual trees occurs, however, we have an entirely new fire environment with which to be concerned.

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, October 05). Unit 2: Fuels Classification. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License