The recent fire at a Rhode Island nightclub unfortunately made it very clear that catastrophic fires still occur, and that many people still don’t realize just how quickly a seemingly simple fire can grow rapidly into an inescapable furious inferno. Discussion centers on the rapidity of fire growth in many situations, how experiments and modeling have helped to characterize the events, and how the population at large still does not appreciate the immense fire dangers. The technical and scientific information about ignition, fire spread and analysis helps us to understand the amalgamation of key features of the incident. Calculations are shown of how the fire size, total evolution of smoke, smoke generation rate, and smoke level all vary with time, for situations of various rates of fire growth.

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