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Unit 3: Topography & Fire Behavior

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Topography   ::   Canyons & Drainages   ::   Retarders   ::   Slopes   ::   Exercises

Retarding the Spread of Fire

Natural or artificial barriers that retard or stop the spread of fire are:

  1. Rocks or bare soil conditions
  2. Lakes, streams, and moist soil conditions
  3. Roads, trails, or other improvements
  4. Change in fuel type and fuel moisture conditions

Barriers can help limit the direction of fire spread and provide opportunities for easier control.
A combination of topographic factors is usually present to influence fuels availability and the manner in which fire spreads through those fuels (see figure below). Slope percent, aspect and position on the slope are all important factors here. What will happen to this fire once it has reached the top of the hill?

Obviously there are more factors involved here than just topographic factors. This course will try to discuss all of the various environmental factors that will help you make better estimations of fire behavior.

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, October 20). Unit 3: Topography & Fire Behavior. 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