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An examination of flame shape related to convection heat transfer in deep-fuel beds

Yedinak, Kara M., Cohen, Jack D., Forthofer, Jason M., Finney, Mark A.
International journal of wildland fire 2010 v.19 no.2 pp. 171
fire spread, fires, fuels (fire ecology), spatial distribution, depth, models, vegetation, heat transfer, shape
Fire spread through a fuel bed produces an observable curved combustion interface. This shape has been schematically represented largely without consideration for fire spread processes. The shape and dynamics of the flame profile within the fuel bed likely reflect the mechanisms of heat transfer necessary for the pre-heating and ignition of the fuel during fire spread. We developed a simple laminar flame model for examining convection heat transfer as a potentially significant fire spread process. The flame model produced a flame profile qualitatively comparable to experimental flames and similar to the combustion interface of spreading fires. The model comparison to flame experiments revealed that at increasing fuel depths (>0.7 m), lateral flame extension was increased through transition and turbulent flame behaviour. Given previous research indicating that radiation is not sufficient for fire spread, this research suggests that flame turbulence can produce the convection heat transfer (i.e. flame contact) necessary for fire spread particularly in vertically arranged, discontinuous fuels such as shrub and tree canopies.