Remote Sensing of Wildland Fire-induced Risk: Assessment Framework

Wildland fire is one of the critical natural hazards that pose a significant threat to the communities located in the vicinity of forested/vegetated areas. In this report, our overall goal was to use very high spatial resolution (0.5-2.4m) satellite images to develop wildland fire-induced risk framework. We considered two extreme fire events, such as the 2016 HRF over Fort McMurray, and 2011 Lesser Slave Lake fire in Alberta. Thus, our activities included the: (i) estimation of the structural damages; and (ii) delineation of the wildland-urban interface (WUI) and its associated buffers at certain intervals, and their utilization in assessing potential risks. Our proposed method of remote sensing-based estimates was compared with the ground-based information available from the Planning and Development Recovery Committee Task Force of Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) and National Fire Information Database (NFID); and found strong linear relationships (i.e., r2-value of 0.97 with a slope of 0.97 for the 2016 HRF over Fort McMurray; and 378 from satellite image vs. 407 from 378 from satellite image vs. 407 from NFID system for the 2011 Lesser Slave Lake fire). Upon delineating the WUI and its associated buffer zones at 10m, 30m, 50m, 70m and 100m distances; we found existence of vegetation within the 30m buffers from the WUI for all of the damaged structures. In addition, we noticed that the relevant authorities had removed vegetation in some areas between 30m and 70m buffers from the WUI in case of Fort McMurray area, which was proven to be effective in order to protect the structures in the adjacent communities. Furthermore, we mapped the wildland fire-induced vulnerable areas upon considering the WUI and its associated buffers. We found that there were still some communities that had the existence of vegetation within the buffer zones; thus such vegetation should be removed and monitored regularly in order to reduce the wildland fire-induced risks.

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