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February 5, 1982

Nuclear War-Reply

JAMA. 1982;247(5):582. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320300011006

In Reply.—  It would be irrational to deny that a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union would create a public health problem of unprecedented magnitude. However, Dr Fouts should check his own level of knowledge before criticizing mine. He says that the thermal pulse from a 1-megaton blast would likely cause a firestorm. United States government research indicates that this is not the case:Since we now estimate that only about 10% of the buildings will be ignited by a nuclear detonation, one of the criteria for firestorm conditions, that at least 50% be on fire initially, is not met. In other words, present evidence suggests that the most severe nuclear fire situation will be similar to that which occurred in Hiroshima.1The postattack fire situation in Hiroshima was not a firestorm, but is described as a group fire, with an intensity of about 40