Simulating forest fire spread and fire-fighting using cellular automata

Chinese Journal of Physics

By Mutthulakshmi, K., En Wee, Megan Rui, Kester Wong, Yew Chong, Weijia Lai, Joel, Ming Koh, Jin, Rajendra Acharya, U., Cheong, Kang Hao


In response to the transboundary haze problem in Southeast Asia, a physical model is adopted to simulate the spread and extinguishing of fire. This study is done in the context of Dumai, Indonesia, as it is one of the areas that significantly contribute to the haze problem. This model aims to provide perspectives on the persistence of forest fires despite fire-fighting efforts. While existing models using Huygens’ principle of wave propagation allow an understanding of the natural spread of fire, our model applies cellular automata to predict and analyse the effects of fire-fighting intervention strategies, with the spatial and propagation dynamics of fire considered. Cellular automata is an active area of research among physicists, and is widely used by chemists and biologists to model many types of natural phenomena. We note similarities between our model predictions and observations of real-world phenomena. Analyses on the factors that affect the spread of fire are presented, in order to understand which ones are dominant in differing situations. This provides insights on optimum conditions for fire-fighting efforts, and suggests guidelines that may be considered for fire control in future forest fires.



2 A forest fire is a large uncontrolled fire in an area of combustible vegetation occurring in a forest or woodland. Fires are a significant source of forest

4 destruction in many countries. Forest fires have devastating results, such as deforestation, air pollution and a loss of animal and human life . This has been a

6 common transboundary issue, even in Europe and the Americas . In Indonesia, burnt forests create haze, and cause enormous ecological and economic

8 damage to both Indonesia and nearby countries. Proper fire management

9 regimes


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