YukonU students are fighting wildfires with technology 

photo of calibration

Not all wildfires need to be fought. Fire is a natural process in the boreal forest but sometimes there is risk to communities or infrastructure. The Government of Yukon’s Wildland Fire Management branch determines when wildfires should be fought or allowed to burn and fulfill their natural, ecological role - and models can help them do this.  

Brandon Whey and Amanda Eskridge are YukonU student research assistants who developed a wildfire risk assessment model with instructor Jaclyn Semple, and in partnership with Wildland Fire. They are calibrating this model over the winter so it will be ready to pilot during the coming wildfire season. The model considers fuel type, risk to cities or towns, and infrastructure like cabins and weather stations, and assigns each fire a risk number from one to five.  

Brandon and Amanda are testing the model by applying the GPS locations of past and hypothetical fires and comparing the results. They will present their work to Wildland Fire in the coming months.  

Jaclyn Semple received a Scholarly Activity Grant (SAG) to work on this project with her student research assistants. Learn how faculty, staff and students can apply for SAG and make your research a reality! 

Photo caption: Amanda, Jaclyn (on Zoom), and Brandon discuss the calibration of the risk assessment model.