Full-Scale Burn Test of a 1998 Compact Passenger Car 2014-01-0426
Results from a full-scale vehicle burn test involving a 1998 compact passenger car were used to evaluate vehicle fire dynamics and how burn patterns produced during the fire correlated with important characteristics of the fire, such as the area of origin. After the fire was initiated at the air filter in the engine compartment, the fire spread locally and, once the temperature near the origin reached about 750°C, the temperature at all but one location within the engine compartment began to increase. These temperatures continued to increase for the next 6 minutes and then a temperature gradient began to develop in the passenger compartment between the ceiling and the floor. About 5 minutes after the engine compartment became fully involved, the ceiling temperature reached about 590°C and flame spread within the passenger compartment increased. Over the next 4 minutes, the passenger compartment also became fully involved. The fire then spread to the trunk and the rear wheels before self-extinguishing. Although oxidation and melted aluminum patterns were created during the fire, neither was useful in determining the area of origin of the fire.