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This paper describes scale modeling of very large scale fires as a practically useful means to investigate thoroughly their mechanisms in laboratory. A good example of very large scale fires is “fire whirls”. If they are generated in urban and wildland fires, they can be dangerous for the fire fighters nearby the fire whirls and will cause extensive damage in environments. For over 20 years we have collected information and conducted experimental studies of fire whirls in mass fires using scale models. These studies indicated that a large mass fire often broke out when a large earthquake hit a city of dense population. The mass fire-related casualties and destruction were far more serious than those caused by destruction of buildings and houses by the earthquake itself. A good example is the 1938 Tokyo earthquake which caused mass fires and fire whirls claiming 38,000 deaths.
accident reconstruction, combustion, forest fire, scaling laws, scale models
Professor, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY