In 2003, the municipality of Crowsnest Pass in southern
Alberta faced the Lost Creek Fire,
its largest since 1930, which burned 20,000 hectares of timber on its
southern side and forced the evacuation
of two towns. At the time, many forestry officials, firefighters and
locals commented on the difficulty faced
fighting this fire, due mainly in part to the high winds and rugged
topography of the area. These two factors
combined created erratic, gusting winds flowing from all directions
over the local hills and valleys. Numerous
berms and cut lines built to contain the flames were easily overrun in
the month-long blaze before it was fully
contained. Luckily, no homes were lost. Since that time, investment and
development in the Pass have increased
substantially, as have worries that another fire might now threaten the
northern side of the municipality.
This project aims to produce a fire threat analysis of a
second major fire occurring north of
the Crowsnest Pass. Special emphasis will be placed on modeling or
deriving the magnitude and direction of the
local winds. This will give a quantifiable idea of trouble spots prone
to dangerous winds, where fire containment
could be rapidly lost. If time permits, the south side might be
analyzed as a "control" situation; does the GIS
analysis make sense given an actual fire outcome?
The analysis will operate under the assumption that
there has been an on-going drought in the area,
and so precipitation/lightning strike data will not be critical.
Several maps detailing the threat will be produced,
showing areas where fires are most likely to start, where they will
spread, and where they will be most dangerous to
the local communities.
Focus Area in Alberta
2003 Crowsnest Pass Fire Images
All images will open in new windows.
Photos by Jason Knight.
Creek Fire, Looking South: July 2003.
Mountain Fire: August 2, 2003.
Mountain, Looking West: August 2, 2003.
August 2, 2003.
Fire, Evening: August 2, 2003.
Satellite imagery from NASA's Earth Observatory Natural Hazards Archive.
BC and Alberta Forest Fires: August 2003.
and Alberta Forest Fires: September 2003.
Photos by the Foothills
Amateur Radio Society. Photo page found here.
Forest Fire Smoke Plume.