Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Effects of Wind Speed and Angle on Fire Spread along Privacy Fences



Erik L. Johnsson, Alexander Maranghides


A series of experiments was conducted to examine fire spread along fences subjected to wind at various speeds and angles. Specifically, sections of western redcedar, California redwood, or vinyl privacy fences were ignited with a burner. Wind fields of 9 m/s, 13.5 m/s, or 18 m/s aligned with, perpendicular to, or at a 45° angle to the fences were applied during the experiments. To simulate fine fuels typically present in real installations, dried shredded hardwood mulch beds were placed under most of the fence sections. Also, some fence sections were coated with fence preservative to assess its effect on fire spread. Pans of mulch were downwind targets for embers produced by the burning fence and mulch bed. At all wind speeds tested, a mulch bed was required for flames to spread. Fastest flame spread was achieved with the fence aligned with the wind field. During most experiments, the burning mulch and fences produced embers which ignited spot fires in the mulch targets. These experiments demonstrated that ignited wood fence structures can be rapid conduits for fire along them and potentially spread fire to attached or adjacent structures. Additionally, it was found that burning fences can produce spot fires from their own ember generation. This study of fence fire spread is part of a series designed to better inform standards and codes regarding placement of landscape features around homes at risk of exposure to wildland-urban interface fires.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1894
Report Number


WUI fires, firebrands, embers, wildland urban interface fires, fence fires, structural ignition, structural embers, fire spread


Johnsson, E. and Maranghides, A. (2016), Effects of Wind Speed and Angle on Fire Spread along Privacy Fences, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 14, 2024)
Created July 25, 2016, Updated November 10, 2018