Mechanical fuels treatments are being used in fire-prone ecosystems where fuel loading poses a hazard, yet little research elucidating subsequent fire behaviour exists, especially in litter-dominated fuelbeds. To address this deficiency, we burned constructed fuelbeds from masticated sites in pine flatwoods forests in northern Florida with palmetto-dominated understoreys and examined the effects of fuel load and fuel moisture content (FMC) on fire behaviour. Flame lengths (49-140cm) and fireline intensity (183-773kJm -1s-1) increased with loading (10-30Mgha-1) and were reduced by 40 and 47% with increasing FMC from 9 to 13%. Rate of spread was not influenced by fuel load, but doubled under drier FMC. Fuel consumption was >90% for all burns. Soil temperatures were influenced by both fuel load and FMC, but never reached lethal temperatures (60°C). However, temperatures of thermocouple probes placed at the fuelbed surface reached 274-503°C. Probe maximum temperature and duration at temperatures ≥60°C (9.5-20.0°Cmin) both increased with fuel load, but were unaffected by FMC. The fire behaviour observed in these unique litter-dominated fuelbeds provides additional insight into the burning characteristics of masticated fuels in general.
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