Wind Driven Fire Contributed to Cambridge MA Blaze

Blog Post created by kenwillette Employee on Dec 5, 2016

Watching the videos and listening to the Cambridge Fire Alarm audio  of the 10 alarm fire that occurred in Cambridge, MA on December 3, all personnel at that scene did an awesome job! This was not a room and contents fire that extended to the floor of origin but a massive fireball that exploded from a wood framed, three story residential structure (a three decker), immediately exposing several other structures of similar construction. It also appears the wind played a force in the extension of this fire, accelerating the pace and distance the wall of fire and flaming debris spread.


The wind is something we take for granted, but it has been a contributing factor in many large and sometimes fatal fires.The wildfires that are devouring the Great Smokey Mountains and Gatlinburg,TN Smokey Mountain National Forest have been fed by excessive winds. Not far from the location of Saturday's fire, two Boston firefighters lost their lives while battling a fire in Bostons Back Bay .


Fire explodes from structure during Cambridge MA 10 alarm fire



In 2010, the NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation as part of a National Institute for Standards and Technology/Department of Homeland security  funded project, studied  Fire Fighting Tactics Under Wind Driven Conditions to guide the development of appropriate tactical options for use under wind driven conditions. Through laboratory experiments and data collection, the goal was to improve the safety of fire fighters and building occupants by enabling a better understanding of wind driven firefighting tactics, including structural ventilation and suppression. The technical information developed through this study increased the fire service's  understanding of the dynamics of fire phenomena and prediction of fire intensity and growth under wind driven conditions. This content of the Firefighter Tactics Under Wind Driven Conditions report, updated 2013, provides a basis to identify methods and promulgate improved Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG) for the fire service to enhance firefighter safety, fire ground operations, and use of equipment.


The Cambridge incident destroyed several buildings, numerous vehicles, and displaced over 100 persons. Luckily, no lives were lost and  responders suffered only minor injuries. The lessons learned at this fire join the earlier Research Foundation report in guiding the fire service on strategies for dealing with such incidents.