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Simulation of a Fire in a Hillside Residential Structure - San Francisco, CA



Kristopher J. Overholt, Craig G. Weinschenk, Daniel M. Madrzykowski


Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), which is a fire model that is developed and maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), was used to provide insight into the dynamics of a fire that occurred on June 2, 2011, within a multi-level, single-family residential structure in San Francisco, CA, that resulted in the death of two firefighters. The inputs for the FDS simulation are documented in this report and are based on the fire scenario, including the building geometry, interior furnishings, and ventilation conditions. The fire started in the basement and resulted in ventilation limited (fuel rich) fire conditions in the basement area. After the rear basement windows began to fail, the interior stairwell acted as a chimney for hot gases in the basement to flow towards regions of lower pressure and vent openings located on the front side of the structure. The temperature of the gases in the interior stairwell was estimated to be in excess of 700 C (1300 F). Two firefighters were located in the flow path between the basement and the doors on the front side of the structure, were exposed to these elevated temperatures, and later died as a result of their injuries.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1856
Report Number


flow path, fire dynamics, LODD, fire modeling, FDS simulation


Overholt, K. , Weinschenk, C. and Madrzykowski, D. (2014), Simulation of a Fire in a Hillside Residential Structure - San Francisco, CA, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 20, 2024)


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Created November 13, 2014, Updated November 10, 2018