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Department of Statistics, UCLA

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Estimation of the Fire Interval Distribution for Los Angeles County, California


This paper describes a new method for estimating the fire interval distribution of a region using historical wildfire boundary data. The new procedure does not assume a specific parametric model and can adapt to various types of fire interval relationships. The estimator first averages the proportions of certain age classes which burn across time and weights these proportions by the amount of available fuel. Then, rather than fit known theoretical models, we use local linear smoothing methods to ascertain the overall relationship between fuel age and burning. In Los Angeles County, California, detailed information on wildfires has been made available through the use of geographic information systems (GIS) technology. The proposed procedure is applied to GIS data covering the years 1878 - 1996 and reveals an apparent nonlinear threshold - type relationship with burn area. The result is compared with two well - known parametric models and the relationship appears to conform to the well known Olson model for a fire interval distribution.

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