Prairie Fires

Flint Hills Prairie Fires

The Flint Hills are one of the most fire prone ecosystems in the United States. Annually, prescribed fires and wildfires can burn hundreds of thousands of acres. The Burn Severity Portal prairie fire products document the annual occurrence and extent of larger prairie fires in the Flint Hills.

The methods used to produce the prairie fires products from 2019 to present are different than Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity Program (MTBS) methods. These new methods are optimized to efficiently map and characterize the large number of fires that occur in this region on an annual basis. Prior to 2019, modified MTBS fire mapping methods were used. New mapping methods were developed, because of the unique frequency and extent of fire in this prairie biome. These fire products are now delivered through the Burn Severity Portal and are no longer included as part of the MTBS products unless a fire is identified in IRWIN, NFPORS or a legacy federal fire occurrence database. The provided data products will vary slightly based on the mapping methodology applied at the time of fire occurrence (pre-2019 or 2019 and later).


1 to 6 weeks after fire containment

Data Available


Mapping Method

(2019 to present; prior to 2019 modified MTBS methods were used)

  • The product is developed by running a classification tree model on Landsat and Sentinel imagery for all available image dates with visible fires and without >80% cloud cover in the spring of each year.
  • The model takes each image, uses all LandsatĀ  bands 2-7 or Sentinel 2 bands 2-4, 8, 11, and 12, and finds thresholds between burnt and unburnt areas to create perimeters
  • Fire perimeters are created by the model and no manual editing is performed.
  • Analysts do review and remove small polygons less than 2 acres.
  • The Prairie Fire data set will include multi-part polygons and have one record for each source image date.


  • Burned area boundary shapefile
  • Normalized Burn Ratio; continuous