The Burning Index (BI) is commonly used as a predictor of wildfire activity. An examination of data on the BI and wildfires in Los Angeles County, California, from January 1976 to December 2000 reveals that although the BI is positively associated with wildfire occurrence, its predictive value is quite limited. Wind speed alone has a higher correlation with burn area than BI, for instance, and a simple alternative point process model using wind speed, relative humidity, precipitation and temperature well outperforms the BI in terms of predictive power. The BI is generally far too high in winter and too low in fall, and may exaggerate the impact of individual variables such as wind speed or temperature during times when other variables, such as precipitation or relative humidity, render the environment ill suited for wildfires. ?? IAWF 2007.
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A critical assessment of the Burning Index in Los Angeles County, California