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Study on Fires Following the 2011 Great East-Japan Earthquake based on the Questionnaire Survey to Fire Departments in Affected Areas

Sekizawa, A. and Sasaki, K., 2014. Study on Fires Following the 2011 Great East-Japan Earthquake based on the Questionnaire Survey to Fire Departments in Affected Areas. Fire Safety Science 11: 691-703. 10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.11-691


ABSTRACT

The 2011 Great East-Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, caused large-scale fire damage across a wide area, with the type and extent of fire damage exceeding that caused by the 1995 Kobe Earthquake. A particularly distinctive characteristic was the many fires caused either directly or indirectly by the tsunami. The mechanism of occurrence and development of tsunami-induced fires differs significantly from typical earthquake-induced fires. Given these two very different types of initiation scenarios, fires following the Great East-Japan Earthquake were analyzed based on factors such as regional distribution, causes of ignition, pattern of fire development and spread, and size of fire. Data for these analyses were collected from questionnaire surveys of fire departments located in the affected areas. In addition, data are presented on the relationship between seismic intensity and the incidence of earthquake-induced fires. A significant finding from the analysis is that, given the impacts to infrastructure and extent of damage, tsunami-induced fires are likely to spread beyond the control of fire brigades. Therefore, the prevention and mitigation of tsunami-induced fires in the future earthquakes is of great significance.


Keyword(s):

fire investigation, statistics, tsunami, post-earthquake fire


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