Pools of kerosene burn in a self-sustaining manner as reported in Combustion Properties of Large Liquid Pool Fires Fire Technology volume 25, pages 241–255(August 1989).
This reference compiles kerosene pool fire data from 6 sources and spans the size range of 0.25 to 50 meter diameter pools. Quantitative data for burn rate in millimeters of depth per minute, radiation output in kilowatts per square meter, flame temperature and flame height are provided.
One counter example is provided by the reference:
It is believed the largest tests were conducted
during the kerosene pool fire discussed in Reference 7. In this series of
tests, an 80 m diameter pool fire test was also conducted, but due to
strong winds, the fuel did not spread over the entire pool surface, so the
test was not a success.
So overall, unless there is strong wind, pools of kerosene will burn.
According to Oil Pool Fire Experiment. Fire Safety Science 1: 911-918 (1986):
Due to the reasons that kerosene with a higher ignition point was used as
fuel and it was necessary to cause the ignited fire to grow into a complete
conflagration within as short a time as possible, small amounts of naphtha were
made to flow out of several points on the oil surface and ignited electrically
using ignition balls.
- Ignition position
Since the thickness of kerosene was 20 mm and thin, it was necessary to
wholly burn kerosene for a short time after ignition so that the whole burning time would be made long.
After pre-test results, it was found that liquid surface falling speed was
about 2.1 mm/min and fire propagation speed was 3 to 4 m/min.
The fire became a conflagration in 3 minutes after ignition.
Kerosene consumption until then was thought to be about 2 mm on the average
for all tanks. Kerosene of 18 mm or above was consumed when a conflagration
Since fire propagation speed was 3 to 4 m/m, it was assumed that fire would
expand to 9 to 12 m in 3 minutes.
The position and number of ignition points were determined, so that any
parts of the tank can be within about 10 m from the ignition position. As
a result, it was determined that 50 m tank should ignite at 4 points and
80 m tank would ignite at 11 points. It was determined that the 30 m tank
should ignite at central 1 point in order to measure the fire propagation
- Ignition facilities
Since it was difficult to ignite directly to kerosene, it was determined
that ignition should be made by a small quantity of naphtha and ignition
balls to the extent of which influence would not given to the burning properties of kerosene.
The head tank of ignition naphtha was installed at the place 5 to 10 m away
from the edge of each tank. The pre-test was made so that the naphtha
quantity, which flowed out of respective outlets, would be about 500 ml/min.
The height of the head tank was set so that its bottom would be 1 m higher
from the outlet. Outlets, to which naphtha would flow from the head tank,
were installed to the ignition equipment. They were connected with the PVC
tube. Outlets were set facing upward direction at about 5 cm above the
The circumference of outlets was covered with cotton cloth hung from above.
When the stop valve opened, which had been installed to the head tank containing naphtha, naphtha flowed out of outlets. Part of naphtha was impregnated into cotton cloth and remaining naphtha was mixed with kerosene in the
tank. Ignition balls were set into cotton cloth so that naphtha would not
be directly placed. The switch of ignition balls was installed at D/4 outside the tank and ignition balls of respective tanks were designed to be
operated by setting one switch. Naphtha of 2500 ml per outlet was placed
into the head tank so that naphtha of 500 ml for each minute per outlet
would flow for 5 minutes.
The number of head tanks was 30. One head tank each was installed for 50 m
tank and 2 head tanks were installed for 80 m tank.
- Ignition procedures
PVC tubes were made full of naphtha beforehand so that naphtha would flow
out from outlets at the same time when the valve was opened. The valve of
the head tank was opened 1 minute before ignition. One minute after naphtha
was discharged, the switch of ignition balls was turned ON and ignition
balls were caused to generate.
According to this operation, ignition balls would be ignited, naphtha, which
was impregnated into cotton cloth, would burn, kerosene mixed with naphtha
would be lit and, further, fire would propagate to kerosene of the whole