Forest fires are one of the most dangerous events, causing serious land and environmental degradation. Indeed, besides the loss of a huge quantity of plant species, the effects of fires can go far beyond: desertification, increased risk of landslides, soil erosion, death of animals, etc. For these reasons, mathematical models able to predict fire spreading are needed in order to organize and optimize the extinguishing interventions during fire emergencies. This work presents a new system to simulate and predict the movement of the fire front based on free and open source Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies and the Rothermel surface fire spread model, with the adjustments made by Albini. We describe the mathematical models used, provide an overview of the GIS design and implementation, and present the results of some simulations at Etna volcano (Sicily, Italy), characterized by high geomorphological heterogeneity, and where the native flora and fauna may be preserved and perpetuated. The results consist of raster maps representing the progress times of the fire front starting from an ignition point and as a function of the topography and wind directions. The reliability of results is strictly affected by the correct positioning of the fire ignition point, by the accuracy of the topography that describes the morphology of the territory, and by the setting of the meteorological conditions at the moment of the ignition and propagation of the fire.
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