A maximal covering location-based model for analyzing the vulnerability of landscapes to wildfires: Assessing the worst-case scenario

Article Status: Published
Publication Year: 2017
Eghbal Rashidi, Hugh Medal, Jason Gordon, Robert Grala, Morgan Varner. European Journal of Operational Research, Volume 258, Issue 3, Pages 1095–1105
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In this research, we study the vulnerability of landscapes to wildfires based on the impact of the worst-case scenario ignition locations. Using this scenario, we model wildfires that cause the largest damage to a landscape over a given time horizon. The landscape is modeled as a grid network, and the spread of wildfire is modeled using the minimum travel time model. To assess the impact of a wildfire in the worst-case scenario, we develop a mathematical programming model to optimally locate the ignition points so that the resulting wildfire results in the maximum damage. We compare the impacts of the worst-case wildfires (with optimally located ignition points) with the impacts of wildfires with randomly located ignition points on three landscape test cases clipped out from three national forests located in the western U.S. Our results indicate that the worst-case wildfires, on average, have more than twice the impact on landscapes than wildfires with randomly located ignition points.