On December 22, 1999 a fire in a two story duplex house in Iowa claimed the lives of three children and three firefighters. At the request and under the sponsorship of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), NIST has examined the fire dynamics of this incident. NIST has performed computer simulations of the fire using the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) and Smokeview, a visualization tool, to provide insight on the fire development and thermal conditions that may have existed in the residence during the fire.
An FDS model scenario was developed that best represented the actual building geometry, material thermal properties, and fire behavior based on information and photographs from ATF. The FDS calculations that best represent the reported fire conditions indicate that a fire originating on the kitchen stove spread through the house resulting in flames that engulfed the stairwell to the second floor within approximately 9 minutes from the start of flaming ignition on the stove. The critical event in this fire was the onset of flashover conditions in the kitchen. Within 60 seconds after the flashover occurred in the kitchen, the flames had spread through the dining room, living room and up the stairway.
Details are provided in the report, "Simulation of the Dynamics of a Fire in a Two-Story Duplex - Iowa, December 22, 1999 (NIST IR 6854)."
Duplex Fire, Iowa 1999, front of structure. Unit on right was the unit of fire origin. (Photo credit: NIST)