Fire whirls in large city fires and forest fires, which are highly dangerous and destructive, can cause substantial casualties and property damages. It is important to examine under what conditions of weather and geography such merging fires and fire whirls are generated. However, detailed physical characteristics about them are not fully clarified yet. Therefore, we have conducted preliminary studies about merging fires and swirling fires and found that they can enhance the fire spread. If sufficient knowledge can be obtained by relevant experiments and numerical computations, it may be possible to mitigate the damages due to merged fires and fire whirls. The objective of this study is to investigate the swirling conditions of fires in square arrays, applying wind at one corner, in laboratory experiments and also by CFD numerical simulations. Varying the inter-fire distance, heat release rate and mass flow rate by a wind fan, ‘swirling’ or ‘non-swirling’ in the array were judged. It has been found that the fire whirl generation is highly affected by the inter-fire distance in the array, the total heat release rate and also the mass flow rate by a fan. We obtained the conditions of swirling fire generation in 15 × 15 square array for (1) the ratio between the upward mass flow rate vs. applied mass flow rate in the upward swirling plume and (2) a non-dimensional relationship between the heat flow rate in the swirling plume and the applied mass flow rate.

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