Generalized Blaze Flash, a “Flashover” Behavior for Forest Fires—Analysis from the Firefighter’s Point of View


The phenomenon called “flashover” or “eruptive fire” in forest fires is characterized by a sudden change in fire behavior: everything seems to burst into flames instantly and firefighters are overwhelmed by a sort of eruption, spreading at a speed at far several meters per second. Unfortunately it has cost several lives in the past. The reasons for such an accident always create controversy in the research field. Different theories are highlighted and especially two major axes are currently subject to discussion because they are very popular among people involved in fire-fighting. The one with regard to VOCs emissions is the best-known among firemen. Under great heat, during summer or with a fire approaching, plants emit VOCs and the more the temperature grows, the more the amount of VOCs emitted grows. Under specific conditions (essentially topographical, meteorological and atmospheric), the cloud of gas can accumulate in an appropriate zone. The concentration of VOCs may therefore reach the Lower Explosive Limit, triggering the burst of the cloud when in contact with the fire. The second theory depends on physical considerations. An example is based on a convective flow created by the fire itself. When a fire spreads on a slope, it creates an aspiration phenomenon in a way to supply the fire with oxygen. The more this phenomenon is important, the more the flames tilt and increase the rate of speed, needing even more oxygen and thus induced flow. This vicious circle can stabilize or have an erratic behavior to trigger off a fire eruption. This article presents these two theories, and especially the new advances on this research subject.

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Chatelon, F. , Sauvagnargues, S. , Dusserre, G. and Balbi, J. (2014) Generalized Blaze Flash, a “Flashover” Behavior for Forest Fires—Analysis from the Firefighter’s Point of View. Open Journal of Forestry, 4, 547-557. doi: 10.4236/ojf.2014.45059.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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