Factors influencing wildfire occurrence and distribution in eastern Kentucky, USA
- ISSN: 1049-8001
- DOI: 10.1071/WF06007
Most wildfires in Kentucky occur in the heavily forested Appalachian\ncounties in the eastern portion of the state. In the present study,\nwe reconstructed a brief fire history of eastern Kentucky using Landsat\nThematic Mapper and Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus images acquired\nbetween 1985 and 2002.We then examined relationships between fire\noccurrence and area burned, and abiotic and human factors. Abiotic\nfactors included Palmer Drought Severity Index, slope, aspect, and\nelevation, and human factors included county unemployment rates,\ndistance to roads, and distance to populated places. Approximately\n83% of the total burned area burned only once, 14% twice, and 3%\nthrice. More fires burned in the winter compared with the fall, but\nthe latter fires were larger on average and accounted for ∼71% of\nthe total area burned. Fire size was negatively correlated with Palmer\nDrought Severity Index for certain times of the year. There were\nsignificant relationships between elevation and slope and fire occurrence,\nbut not between aspect and fire occurrence. We found links between\nfire location and proximity to roads and settlements, but we found\nno correlations between monthly unemployment rates and arson-caused\nfires.