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Wind Effects on Flame Spread and Ember Spotting Near a Structure



Kathryn M. Butler, Erik L. Johnsson, Marco G. Fernandez, Mariusz Zarzecki, Glenn P. Forney, Eric Auth


In wildland-urban interface (WUI) fires, combustible materials pose a potential threat to contiguous or nearby structures. Flame spread and firebrand spotting have been studied in a series of field experiments involving fences and mulch beds under a variety of wind conditions and separation distances from a small structure. The rate of flame spread in a mulch bed was observed to slow significantly as the fire approached the structure, with flame contact with the structure occurring only after the gap was jumped by firebrand spotting. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling was used to gain insight into the flow field. A vortex forming near the base of the structure in the wind field was found to be responsible for changing the flame spread from a concurrent flow situation to opposed flow as it approaches the structure.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the 2017 Fire and Materials Conference
Conference Dates
February 6-8, 2017
Conference Location
San Francisco, CA
Conference Title
2017 Fire and Materials Conference


flame spread, WUI fires, ember spotting, firebrands, mulch, flow modeling


Butler, K. , Johnsson, E. , Fernandez, M. , Zarzecki, M. , Forney, G. and Auth, E. (2017), Wind Effects on Flame Spread and Ember Spotting Near a Structure, Proceedings of the 2017 Fire and Materials Conference, San Francisco, CA, [online], (Accessed April 18, 2024)
Created February 5, 2017, Updated August 25, 2020