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Abstract. Topography, weather, and fuels are known factors driving fire behavior, but the degree to which each contributes to the spatial pattern of fire severity under different conditions remains poorly understood. The variability in severity within the boundaries of the 2006 wildfires that burned in the Klamath Mountains, northern California, along with data on burn conditions and new analytical tools, presented an opportunity to evaluate factors influencing fire severity under burning conditions representative of those where management of wildfire for resource benefit is most likely. Fire severity was estimated as the percent change in canopy cover (0–100%) classified from the Relativized differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (RdNBR), and spatial data layers were compiled to determine strength of associations with topography, weather, and variables directly or indirectly linked to fuels, such as vegetation type, number of previous fires, and time since last fire. Detailed fire progressions were used to estimate weather (e.g., temperature, relative humidity, temperature inversions, and solar radiation) at the time of burning. A generalized additive regression model with random effects and an additional spatial term to account for autocorrelation between adjacent locations was fitted to fire severity. In this fire year characterized by the relative absence of extreme fire weather, topographical complexity most strongly influenced severity. Upper- and mid-slopes tended to burn at higher fire severity than lower-slopes. East- and southeast-facing aspects tended to burn at higher severity than other aspects. Vegetation type and fire history were also important predictors of fire severity. Shrub vegetation was more likely to burn at higher severity than mixed hardwood/conifer or hardwood vegetation. As expected, fire severity was positively associated with time since previous fire, but the relationship was non-linear. Of the weather variables analyzed, temperature inversions, common in the complex topography of the Klamath Mountains, showed the strongest association with fire severity. Inversions trapped smoke and had a dampening effect on severity within the landscape underneath the inversion. Understanding the spatial controls on mixed-severity fires allows managers to better plan for future wildfires and aide in the decision making when managing lightning ignitions for resource benefit might be appropriate.

Abstract

Topography, weather, and fuels are known factors driving fire behavior, but the degree towhich each contributes to the spatial pattern of fire severity under different conditions remains poorlyunderstood. The variability in severity within the boundaries of the 2006 wildfires that burned in theKlamath Mountains, northern California, along with data on burn conditions and new analytical tools, presentedan opportunity to evaluate factors influencing fire severity under burning conditions representativeof those where management of wildfire for resource benefit is most likely. Fire severity was estimated asthe percent change in canopy cover (0–100%) classified from the Relativized differenced Normalized BurnRatio (RdNBR), and spatial data layers were compiled to determine strength of associations with topography,weather, and variables directly or indirectly linked to fuels, such as vegetation type, number of previousfires, and time since last fire. Detailed fire progressions were used to estimate weather (e.g.,temperature, relative humidity, temperature inversions, and solar radiation) at the time of burning. A generalizedadditive regression model with random effects and an additional spatial term to account for autocorrelationbetween adjacent locations was fitted to fire severity. In this fire year characterized by therelative absence of extreme fire weather, topographical complexity most strongly influenced severity.

 

From Out of the Abyss...

This week’s article from the past is titled Incendiary Fires Can Be Spotted and was written by Benjamin Horton, CPCU, who was President of the National Adjuster Traing School in Louisville, Kentucky..  It is taken from the Decembe 1968 Vol. XVI No.5 issue.

Incendiary Fires Can Be Spotted 

In the new issue of NFPA Journal®, President Jim Shannon said the Association will focus on the leading causes of home fires, including cooking. "We also need to continue to push hard for home fire sprinklers. That's still a large priority for NFPA, and we plan to work very aggressively in 2014 on our residential sprinkler initiative," he said.

Read more...

White Paper

Study by: Albert Simeoni, Zachary C. Owens, Erik W. Christiansen, Abid KemalExponent, Inc. USAMichael Gallagher, Kenneth L. Clark, Nicholas SkowronskiNorthern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, USAEric V. Mueller, Jan C. Thomas, Simon Santamaria, Rory M. HaddenSchool of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, UK

Albert Simeoni, Zachary C. Owens, Erik W. Christiansen, Abid Kemal Exponent, Inc. USA Michael Gallagher, Kenneth L. Clark, Nicholas Skowronski Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, USA Eric V. Mueller, Jan C. Thomas, Simon Santamaria, Rory M. Hadden School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, UK

ABSTRACT

Two experimental fires, with contrasting intensities, were conducted in March 2016, in the Pinelands National Reserve (PNR) of New Jersey, United States in order to provide a preliminary assessment of the reliability of the fire direction indicators used in wildland fire investigation.  The experiments were part of a larger project intended to measure firebrand production in a forested ecosystem.  As part of this project, fire behavior, as well as the environmental and fuel conditions were also measured.  Two burn parcels, covering an area of approximately 30 hectares each, were ignited from unimproved forest roads which delimited them.  The forest canopy was comprised primarily of pitch pine with intermittent oaks.  The understory contained a mixed shrub layer of huckleberry, blueberry, and scrub oaks. In order to explore a wide range of indicators, objects such as bottles, cans and small fence elements were planted in the burn area, and photographed before and after the fire.  To obtain an accurate measure of pre- and post-fire fuel properties, fuel load, fuel bulk density, and fuel moisture content were also measured. In addition, environmental data (wind velocity and direction, air temperature and humidity) were recorded.  The fire behavior can be reconstructed using measurements of fire rate of spread, fire front temperatures, fire front geometry, and heat fluxes.  Video and infrared cameras were used to document the general fire behavior in selected locations.  This paper represents the first step in the analysis of the fire indicators and focuses on the more intense of the two burns and on the appearance of the macro- and microscale fire pattern indicators.  A majority of the indicators were assessed, although the configuration of the burn parcels, the ignition technique, and precipitation immediately following the fires limited a full study.  The results show that some fire direction indicators are highly dependent on local fire conditions and fire behavior and may be in contradiction with the general spread of the fire.  Overall, this study demonstrates that fire pattern indicators are a useful tool but must be interpreted in the frame of a general analysis of the fire, combined with a good understanding of fire behavior and fire dynamics.

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NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations plays a fundamental role in fire and explosion investigations. A new edition of NFPA 921 is scheduled to be published in 2014. For years, this document has played a critical role in the training, education and job performance of fire and explosion investigators. It also serves as one of the primary references used by the National Fire Academy to support its fire/arson-related training and education programs. It is imperative that investigators understand the scope, purpose and application of this document, especially since it will be used to judge the quality and thoroughness of their investigations.

NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations plays a fundamental role in fire and explosion investigations. A new edition of NFPA 921 is scheduled to be published in 2014. For years, this document has played a critical role in the training, education and job performance of fire and explosion investigators. It also serves as one of the primary references used by the National Fire Academy to support its fire/arson-related training and education programs. It is imperative that investigators understand the scope, purpose and application of this document, especially since it will be used to judge the quality and thoroughness of their investigations.

Read more...

Abstract Candles can enhance décor or be a source of light. However, they can also start fires. National estimates of reported fires derived from the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and NFPA’s annual fire department experience survey show that candles were the heat source in an estimated average of 9,300 reported home fires annually during 2009-2013. These fires caused an average of 86 civilian deaths, 827 civilian injuries and $374 million in direct property damage per year. More than one-third (36%) of home candle fires started in the bedroom. Almost three of every five (58%) fires occurred because the candle was too close to something that could burn. Candle fires are most common around the winter holidays. Candles used for light in the absence of electrical power appear to pose a particular risk of fatal fire. Home candle fires climbed through the 1990s but have fallen since the 2001 peak. ASTM F15.45 has developed a number of standards relating to candle fire safety. Despite the considerable progress made in reducing candle fires, they are still a problem. In 2009-2013, candle fires ranked second among the major causes in injuries per thousand fires and average loss per fire. Efforts to prevent these fires must continue.

Abstract

Candles can enhance décor or be a source of light.  However, they can also start fires.  National estimates of reported fires derived from the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and NFPA’s annual fire department experience survey show that candles were the heat source in an estimated average of 9,300 reported home fires annually during 2009-2013.  These fires caused an average of 86 civilian deaths, 827 civilian injuries and $374 million in direct property damage per year.  More than one-third (36%) of home candle fires started in the bedroom.  Almost three of every five (58%) fires occurred because the candle was too close to something that could burn.  Candle fires are most common around the winter holidays.  Candles used for light in the absence of electrical power appear to pose a particular risk of fatal fire.  Home candle fires climbed through the 1990s but have fallen since the 2001 peak.  ASTM F15.45 has developed a number of standards relating to candle fire safety.  Despite the considerable progress made in reducing candle fires, they are still a problem.  In 2009-2013, candle fires ranked second among the major causes in injuries per thousand fires and average loss per fire.  Efforts to prevent these fires must continue.

Read more...

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Governor Brown Directs State Agencies to Revise Flammability Standards

SACRAMENTO – in an effort to protect public safety by reducing the use of toxic flame retardants, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today advised state agencies to revise flammability standards for upholstered furniture sold in the state.

Governor Brown has asked the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation to review the state’s four-decade-old flammability standards and recommend changes to reduce toxic flame retardants while continuing to ensure fire safety.

“Toxic flame retardants are found in everything from high chairs to couches and a growing body of evidence suggests that these chemicals harm human health and the environment,” said Governor Brown. “We must find better ways to meet fire safety standards by reducing and eliminating—wherever possible—dangerous chemicals.”
Studies show that humans are at risk from exposure to toxic chemicals used as flame retardants in upholstered furniture. A 2008 study by the Environmental Working Group found that toddlers often have three times the level of flame retardant chemicals in their bodies as their parents, and California children have some of the highest levels of toxic flame retardants in their bodies.

A peer-reviewed study by scientists at Cal/EPA found that California women have much higher levels of toxic flame retardants in their breast tissue than women in other states and countries. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found statistically significant associations between flame retardant levels in the blood of California women and reduced fertility. The researchers believe this link may result from alterations in thyroid hormone levels after exposure to the chemicals.

Numerous studies demonstrate that firefighters have significantly elevated rates of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and brain cancer. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concluded that firefighters have a significantly elevated risk of cancer that may be attributed to toxic chemicals they inhale, including flame retardants.

The guidelines in place now—Technical Bulletin 117 for flammability standards—will be updated to reflect modern manufacturing methods that can lower the use of harmful chemicals.

The process to change these regulations will include workshops and the opportunity for public comment as well as administrative review.


Governor Jerry Brown
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Press Release - Contra Costa County FPD

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District

Press Release

Subject: Walnut Creek Man Arrested for Arson
Release Date:April 10th 2012
Contact:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
925-941-3541 Office
925-383-5034 Cell
Vic Massenkoff, Fire Investigator

Late on Friday April 6th, 62 year old Walnut Creek resident Brent Robert Kastroff waskastroff
arrested by Contra Costa County Fire District Investigators and the Walnut Creek Police Department at his home in the community of Rossmoor.

In January of this year, Fire Investigators received information about a small fire that occurred on private property on Vista Del Valle in Lafayette. The property is a large parcel that contains 3 homes, but the majority of the 90 acres is grass covered land that even when maintained can still pose a wildfire threat to nearby homes and residents due to it’s size and topography. The investigation lead to the discovery of a previously unreported fire in May of 2011 in the same area; however there were no leads in either incident.

Read more..

Press Release

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District
Press Release

Subject:        Serial Arsonist Arrest
 Pittsburg, Antioch, and Bay Point areas
Release Date:  December 21, 2011

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Investigators, assisted by the Pittsburg Police Department, arrested arson suspect, Thomas Hartman, 53 years old, from Pittsburg late Thursday afternoon December 15, 2011 after a Superior Court Judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Read more.. 

Investigation Nabs Suspects in Car Fire That Seriously Injured LAFD Captain

The Los Angeles Fire Department is pleased to announce the arrest of Maria Porras, 35 and Rigoberto Diaz, 37 both of Los Angeles, in conjunction with an auto-insurance fraud scheme involving an auto fire which occurred near Elysian Park in January 2011.

Read more..

Citronella Candle Hazard

Members and Friends

As you all are aware, we at CCAI want you to be informed. Therefore, I will relate to you an incident that happened in Irvine, CA.

A young school teacher was living in an upscale three story apartment complex on the second floor. The apartment had one bathroom, one bedroom, a living room, and a kitchen area off the living room. The ceiling above the kitchen was at 7 feet while the rest of the apartment was standard height of 8 feet. The apartment has fire sprinklers and one sprinkler is located above the kitchen counter and would reflect water onto the range and counter top if activated.

For some reason the school teacher was burning a Citronella candle on the counter top adjacent to the sink. The candle she purchased was in a small metal bucket with a hoop handle; the candle was not confined in glass. The teacher was washing dishes in the sink when her cat jumped onto the counter top and knocked over the bucket containing the candle. She reacted and reached for the toppled candle with both hands. In one hand she had a glass that she was washing, which contained an amount of water. Some of the water went into the bucket with the candle. A flame came out of the bucket and caused the sprinkler to activate. The water from the sprinkler also got into the bucket and there was an explosion. This entire event happened in a matter of seconds. 

The thought of a candle exploding was a mystery to me and investigator partner, Harry Hatch. We checked several stores trying to purchase the same type of candle the school teacher had described, but no luck. We wanted to see just what the candle would do and also prove or disprove the event.

After looking up Citronella candle fires on the net, we were very surprised to learn that yes, if you add water to a burning Citronella candle it will flare up and sometimes cause an explosion. We all learn something all the time. Be informed and go to yahoo, type in Citronella candle fires and have a look at the videos; you may be as surprised as we were.

Do not be afraid to write us with your hints or new investigation experiences. CCAI is in the business to keep you up to date and informed.

Be Careful Out There
Brad Hamil
Past President
2010

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