Rim Fire

Rim Fire

The Rim fire started on August 17, 2013 in the Tuolumne and Mariposa counties of California, USA. With over 400 square miles of land eventually burnt, it is the third largest wildfire in California’s history, being declared fully contained on October 24, 2013 after over two months firefighting. 10 injuries were reported and suppression costs totaled nearly $127 million.


Figure 1: Rim fire progression based on satellite detections and NIROPS IR flights.

During the fire, both satellites and night IR flights were used to estimate the fire front position, a compilation of which is shown in Figure 1. The fire generally propagated towards the northeast direction. Fuel, weather and landscape information were also collected for later analysis.

Operational Modeling

The most common operational tool to model fire propagation in the United States, FARSITE was used to simulate the fire based on available data. FARSITE simulation results, based on the fuel, weather, and landscape information available, were compared with aerial and satellite detections of the fire, shown below. Although the results from FARSITE and detections do not match very well, they generally predict the right direction and shape of the eventual fire.

Our next step will be to extract the fire front line for each time step and make more accurate comparisons.


(left) FARSITE Simulation Fire Front and (right) observations of the fire.


Satellite detections of the Rim Fire locations.