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Simulation of the Dynamics of the Fire at 3146 Cherry Road NE, Washington, DC, May 30, 1999.

pdf icon Simulation of the Dynamics of the Fire at 3146 Cherry Road NE, Washington, DC, May 30, 1999. (590 K)
Madrzykowski, D.; Vettori, R. L.

NISTIR 6510; April 2000.

Available from:

For more information contact: Daniel Madrzykowski, NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8641, Building 224/Room A345, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8641.
Telephone: 301-975-6899. Email:
Order number: PB2000-104947


computer graphics; predictive models; fire fatalities; fire fighters; fire investigations; fire models; fire simulation; ventilation; computational fluid dynamics


This report describes the results of calculations using the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) that were performed to provide insight on the thermal conditions that occurred during the fire at 3146 Cherry Road NE, Washington D.C. on May 30, 1999. Input to the computer model was developed from 3 sources; the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department Reconstruction Committee, photographs and measurements taken by NIST staff during a June 3, 1999 site visit, and from material properties taken from the FDS database. An FDS model scenario was developed that best represented the actual building geometry, material thermal properties, and fire behavior based on information from the Reconstruction Committee and Physical Evidence. The results from this model scenario are provided with this report. Results from an additional model scenario, which included the opening of the sliding glass door on the first floor prior to opening of the sliding glass door in the basement, are also presented. The FDS calculations that best represent the actual fire conditions indicated that the opening of the basement sliding glass doors provided outside air (oxygen) to a pre-heated, under ventilated fire compartment, which then developed into a post-flashover fire within 60 s. Some of the resulting fire gases flowed up the basement stairwell with high velocity and collected in a pre-heated, oxygen depleted first floor living room with limited ventilation.