Understanding the environmental impact of large warehouse fires can be a daunting task because of uncertainty in establishing a fire scenario and additional uncertainty about the fate of the fire plume and its content. A warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana, had a large fire on May 14, 2004. In order to estimate ground-level exposure in the neighborhood of the warehouse, a fire scenario was development and, subsequently, two modeling techniques for the fire plume dispersion were implemented. First, we applied the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) fire model ALOFT-FT to calibrate the smoke emissions (and consequently the emissions of PM2.5). Second, we used US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dispersion models (ISCST3 and AERMOD) to calculate the ground-level concentration of smoke from the fire. Because of the high heat of the fire, we estimated that only 6% or less of the fire emissions could impact the local neighborhood, while 94% or more of the fire emis-sions remained high above the ground. For AERMOD, the corresponding percentages are 8% and 92%.
AERMOD, accident reconstruction, air quality modeling, ALOFT-FT, fire modeling, ISCST3, plume modeling
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