Building Simulation: An International Journal

Article Title

Modeling the collapse of the Plasco Building. Part Ⅰ: Reconstruction of fire


building fire safety, high-rise buildings, fire investigation, fire modeling, structure failure


In recent years, fires in tall buildings have become more frequent, which costs billions of dollars each year and the loss of many human lives. The façade fire in the Grenfell tower made the structure uninhabitable, and the collapse of the three World Trade Center (WTC) towers is the total structural failure caused by fire. Despite such events, no well-defined methodology exists to reconstruct both fire and structural behaviors and carrys out the forensic investigation of a building fire. This Part Ⅰ paper collects the evidence of the Plasco Building fire and generates a coherent timeline to reconstruct the fire processes. The vertical and horizontal fire spread of the building is reconstructed using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) fire modeling and calibrated against the evidence library. The spatio-temporal temperature history from the fire modeling provides realistic fire scenarios to simulate the structural response. The fire simulation results are used as boundary conditions to be transferred to a finite element analysis tool for a detailed structural analysis to determine the likely collapse mechanism of the Plasco Building in Part Ⅱ. The methodology presented in this paper to reconstruct the fire can also guide the structural fire safety engineers to improve the building fire-safety and life-safety strategies.