The complex interactions between the inclined terrain and the flow generated by the fire make the slope one of the most influencing factors on fire spread. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved in wildfires spreading upslope, the investigation of flow dynamics and heat transfers is fundamental. This paper reports a series of fire spread experiments conducted across a porous bed of excelsior in a large-scale facility, under both no-slope and 30° up-slope conditions. The coupling of particle image velocimetry and video imaging allowed characterizing the flow pattern with respect to the fire front. Simultaneous heat flux measurements with high scan rate were also performed at the edge of the fuel bed. From the collected data, the increase of the rate of spread with increasing slope is attributed to a major change in fluid dynamics surrounding the flame. For horizontal fire spread, flame fronts exhibit quasi-vertical plume resulting from the buoyancy forces generated by the fire. These buoyancy effects induce an inward flow of ambient air that is entrained laterally into the fire from both sides. Flame radiation is the dominant fuel preheating mechanism. Under upslope conditions, the fire plume is tilted toward the unburnt vegetation, increasing radiation levels. The air entrainment at the burnt side of the fire strongly influences the downstream flow, which becomes attached to the surface over a characteristic length scale. Ahead of the flame front, the induced wind blows away from the fire rather than toward it, enhancing convective heating. Periodical forward bursts of flame combined with distant fuel ignitions were also observed. The heat flux measurements confirmed the existence of such convective mechanisms.
Morandini, Frédéric; Silvani, Xavier; Dupuy, Jean-Luc; Susset, Arnaud. 2018. Fire spread across a sloping fuel bed: flame dynamics and heat transfers. Combustion and Flame 190:158-170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.combustflame.2017.11.025