On July 17th, 2008, FPInnovations, at the request of Sustainable Resource Development, began burning the first of a series of experimental fires in Northern Alberta. These test burns were conducted to study behavior patterns as a fire burns into a simulated mountain pine beetle infested stand. The main objective was to compare crown fire initiation rates of spread between green trees and green attack trees, and between green trees and red attack trees.
In total, 6 plots were established in May 2007 in jack pine fuel types. Trees on the east half of each plot were girdled to simulate a mountain pine beetle attack, while the west half was left untreated to act as a control. One year later in May 2008, the treated areas of the plots began to show signs of green attack, becoming more pronounced by late June. 2 of the 6 plots were selected to be ignited based on the weather forecast and needle moisture content.
Overall, the two experimental burns were very successful. The remaining four plots will be burned when the trees begin to show signs of red attack, which is expected to occur in the summer of 2009.