Physics-based model of wildfire propagation towards faster-than-real-time simulations

Paolo Grasso, Mauro Innocente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
153 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents the mathematical formulation, numerical solution, calibration and testing of a physics-based model of wildfire propagation aimed at faster-than-real-time simulations. Despite a number of simplifying assumptions, the model is comprehensive enough to capture the major phenomena that govern the behaviour of a real fire –namely the pyrolysation of wood; the combustion of a mono-phase medium composed of premixed gas of fuel and air; and the heat transferred by conduction, convection, radiation, mass diffusion and transport due to atmospheric wind. The model consists of a system of coupled partial differential equations, one ensuring the balance of enthalpy, and a set of equations representing the mass formation of each chemical species involved in the combustion. Dimensionality reduction is sought by modelling these three-dimensional phenomena in a two-dimensional space, which has been achieved by means of heat-sources and heat-sinks to account for the third dimension in the energy balance equation. Once calibrated with a widely used non-physics-based commercial wildfire simulator, the proposed Fire Propagation Model for Fast simulations (FireProM-F) is tested, returning similar predictions in terms of the size and shape of the burnt area although similarity deteriorates for windy conditions. FireProM-F has the added benefit of being both physics-based and computationally inexpensive so that its interaction with fire suppressants may also be modelled in the future and simulated in real time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-808
Number of pages19
JournalComputers & Mathematics with Applications
Early online date28 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Computers & Mathematics with Applications. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Computers & Mathematics with Applications, 80, (2020) DOI: 10.1016/j.camwa.2020.05.009

© 2020, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • Calibration
  • Combustion
  • FARSITE simulator
  • Fire spread
  • Forest fire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics


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