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Recent field and lab studies by the National Institute of Standards and Technology highlight how broken or open windows in a high rise can add to the devastation of a fire.
Wind entering from a broken or open window can quickly spread smoke, heat and gasses from the original room through hallways and stairwells, hampering evacuation and rescue. During the experiments, temperatures in the path of a wind-driven fire reached at least 752 degrees Fahrenheit, far greater than a firefighter can tolerate, even with protective gear.
This research underlines the importance of educating building occupants on how to behave during a fire. Whenever possible, windows should not be intentionally broken. It is also important to use doors to close off areas to prevent the easy spread of fire gasses.