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Journal of Combustion
Volume 2011, Article ID 984363, 14 pages
Review Article

Review of Vortices in Wildland Fire

1Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 5775 W US Highway 10, Missoula, MT 59808, USA
2Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 320 Green Street, Athens, GA 30602, USA

Received 30 December 2010; Accepted 15 March 2011

Academic Editor: D. Morvan

Copyright © 2011 Jason M. Forthofer and Scott L. Goodrick. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Vortices are almost always present in the wildland fire environment and can sometimes interact with the fire in unpredictable ways, causing extreme fire behavior and safety concerns. In this paper, the current state of knowledge of the interaction of wildland fire and vortices is examined and reviewed. A basic introduction to vorticity is given, and the two common vortex forms in wildland fire are analyzed: fire whirls and horizontal roll vortices. Attention is given to mechanisms of formation and growth and how this information can be used by firefighters.