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Fire whirls, fire tornados, and fire storms: physical and numerical modeling

Author(s): Robert N. Meroney
Year Published: 2003

Fire whirls are a typically rare but potentially catastrophic form of fire. They are observed during urban and forest fires, where fire "tornadoes" are characterized by large-scale whirling flames which rise in 2 to 360 m diameter vortices from 10 to 1200 m high. These fire whirls accelerate combustion, produce significant suction pressures and lifting forces, and can carry burning debris, logs and even buildings thousands of meters from the main fire. Unfortunately, as building atria get larger, attempts to control ventilation during fires in atria may introduce vorticity, which can also generate "internal" fire whirls. This paper will examine historical observations of urban and forest fire whirls, fire whirl dynamics, the physical simulation of fire whirls in the laboratory, and consider numerical simulations of laboratory and building scale fire whirls.

Citation: Meroney, R.N. 2003. Fire whirls, fire tornados, and fire storms: physical and numerical modeling. In: Proceedings of PHYSMOD2003: International workshop on physical modeling of flow and dispersion phenomena; 2003 September 3-5; Prato, Italy.
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Extreme Fire Behavior, Simulation Modeling
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
NRFSN number: 11022
FRAMES RCS number: 11905
Record updated: Jun 14, 2018