Inside a chilly, warehouse-like room in this Washington suburb, construction workers are building walls to build a replica of a 60-foot-by-60-foot wood-frame storage facility.
Once they're done, engineers will burn the building down. Then they'll build it again, and burn it again — all in the name of fire science.
"You get better data by doing things over and over again," said Michael Keller, senior electrical engineer at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Fire Research Laboratory in Beltsville.
Since 2003, engineers at the facility have been re-creating fires large and small to gather data used by investigators, often in...