Fire Dynamics During the Channel Tunnel Fires

Published:  19 April, 2010

Three major fire incidents have occurred in the Channel Tunnel since it opened in the early 90s. The fires on the 18th of November 1996 and the 11th of September 2008 grew to involve many heavy goods vehicles (HGV) on carrier wagons and caused major damage to the tunnel structure. The fire on the 21st of August 2006 involved only a single HGV and did not spread, although the adjacent HGV was damaged by heat. Each of these incidents is described and the incidents are compared.

The official inquiry into the 2008 fire has not yet been published, so information has been collected from press reports. It is clear that the fire development in 1996 and 2008 was broadly similar, while the fire in 2006 was very different. These differences may be due to the cargo and construction of the vehicles involved, but also may be due to the differences in ventilation during the incidents. The conventional model of fire dynamics in multiple vehicle fires is discussed with reference to the Channel Tunnel fires. It is observed that the primary difference between the 2006 fire and the other two was that in the 1996 and 2008 fires, the initial fire would have experienced a reversal in airflow direction and an increase in ventilation flow after the fire was established. In the 2006 fire there was no reversal or increase in flow. It is proposed that these ventilation changes may be able to explain the differences in fire dynamics. Recommendations based on these proposals are made.

  • Operation Florian

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

Waterax - We move water

Trusted by wildland firefighters around the world, WATERAX sets the industry standard by developing innovative, portable fire pumps and water-handling equipment designed to withstand demanding applications and rugged environments.

Big Water Flow for Industrial and Municipal Firefighting Applications

Protecting the lives of the public and firefighters while limiting the structural damage caused in large scale fires is our primary mission

We are committed to improving lives and doing business in the right way

We have a unique mix of capability and culture that we refer to as 3M Science and we strive to develop products that improve people’s daily lives in a multitude of ways.

HazSim - Bringing situational HazMat training to life

HazSim, LLC provides innovative simulation training to ensure your team works safely and effectively. HazSim Pro simulation equipment is in use by hundreds of fire departments, training schools, industrial fire teams, and private trainers across the US, Canada and further afield as well as the US Army.

The ultimate in innovation, quality and service

For 60 years Lehavot has been delivering the world’s most advanced fire detection and suppression automatic systems

Advancing rescue technology

The specialist supplier of quality PPE and Rescue Equipment to Emergency Services.

Revolutionizing fire fighting foam technology

The one-stop resource for fire fighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware.

Trust the best, let us be your foam solution

AUXQUIMIA is a Spanish company whose main activity is the design, manufacture and commercialization of firefighting foam concentrates.

Williams Fire & Hazard Control offers a full line of specialized fire response equipment for oil and gas platforms

From storage tanks and pipeline emergencies to offshore platforms and vessels at sea, Williams' response personnel and specialized equipment quickly address adverse fire emergencies.

Foam fights fire

Europe’s foremost fire fighting foam manufacturer has been developing and producing foams since the 1920s.

The leader in truck-mounted hydraulic platforms

Our mission is to provide the best and the safest solution to professionals that work at height.

If you want quality, you want Zico

Since its inception Ziamatic Corp has provided the men and women of the fire service with products designed to make their jobs safer and easier.

The independent alternative

Dafo Fomtec AB is a privately owned company with head office in Stockholm Sweden and manufacturing in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden.