Published on September 4, 2014.

2013 CATASTROPHIC MULTIPLE-DEATH FIRES BY TYPE

Residential

Pennysylvania
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths
July, 3 a.m., seven (two under age six)
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type
This was a three-story duplex of unprotected ordinary construction that covered 750 square feet (70 square meters).
Smoke Alarms and Other Protection Devices
Smoke alarms were present, but the type and coverage were not reported. They did not operate; the batteries were either missing or dead.
Fire Origin and Path
The fire broke out in a first–floor kitchen. Unattended cooking was listed as the cause.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
The fire spread from the kitchen to the front stairs and up to the second floor. At the same time, the fire spread to the second floor from a first-floor window. Six of the victims were located in one bedroom on the second floor. This room had two windows, one of which contained a box fan used to pull air in. During the fire, however, it pulled in the heat and flames spreading from the first-floor window. The seventh victim was found in a separate bedroom on the same floor. A lack of working smoke alarms contributed to the loss of life.

Pennsylvania
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

May, 11:55 p.m., six (two under age six)
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type
This three-story, single-family home of unprotected wood-frame construction covered 432 square feet (40 square meters).
Smoke Alarms and Other Protection Devices
Neither smoke alarms nor automatic suppression equipment were present.
Fire Origin and Path
The fire began when hot embers from the wood stove in a second-floor kitchen ignited trash on the floor. The fire then spread to the third floor by way of an open stairway.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
Firefighters’ attempts to enter all levels of this home were unsuccessful due to the heavy fire conditions. All six victims were found on the third floor, where they had been trapped by the fire. The lack of smoke alarms contributed to their failure to escape.

Ohio
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

September, 7:54 a.m., six (four under age six)
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type
This single-family manufactured home of unprotected wood-frame construction covered 900 square feet (84 square meters).
Smoke Alarms and Other Protection Devices
A smoke alarm was present and operated. There was no automatic suppression equipment.
Fire Origin and Path
The fire broke out in a first-floor family room. The cause was not reported
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
As firefighters entered the first floor, at least two of them fell through deteriorating flooring but managed to extricate themselves. A man and one child were found in a front bedroom. No information was reported as to where the other four children were located. Two firefighters were also injured fighting this fire. No information was reported on why the residents did not escape.

West Virginia
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

October, 4:07 a.m., six (three under age six)
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type
This two-story, single-family home of unprotected wood-frame construction covered 1,700 square feet (158 square meters).
Smoke Alarms and Other Protection Devices
A smoke alarm of unknown type was located on the first floor, but it had no battery. There was no automatic suppression equipment.
Fire Origin and Path
This fire, of undetermined cause, began on a covered porch on the first floor.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
The porch had a very heavy fire load consisting of at least two couches and other materials. The fire spread from the porch to the living area, charging the space with heat and smoke and cutting off the only escape route. One victim was found on the landing of the stairway from the cellar to the first floor. The other five were found in two bedrooms on the second floor; a man and one child were in one room and the other adult and three children were in the second. Two of the victims died at the hospital, and three others died after being airlifted to burn hospital. The sixth died two weeks later.

Kentucky
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths
January, 02:30 a.m., five (four under age six)
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type
This was a one-story, single-family home of unprotected wood-frame construction. The ground floor area was not reported.
Smoke Alarms and Other Protection Devices
No information was reported.
Fire Origin and Path
No information was reported.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
One other person was injured.

Indiana
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

February, 12:30 a.m., five (one under age six)
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type
This one-story single-family manufactured home of unprotected wood-frame construction covered 720 square feet (67 square meters).
Smoke Alarms and Other Protection Devices
The house had no smoke alarms or automatic suppression equipment.
Fire Origin and Path
The cause of this fire, which started on the ground floor, is undetermined, but investigators believe it was unintentional.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
No information was reported.

Illinois
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

March, 1 a.m., five
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type
This one-story single-family, manufactured home of unprotected wood-frame construction covered 1,440 square feet (134 square meters).
Smoke Alarms and Other Protection Devices
This house was neither smoke alarms nor automatic suppression equipment.
Fire Origin and Path
The fire, of undetermined cause, began in a bedroom.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
One person was also injured but escaped.

Idaho
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

April, 1:38 a.m., five
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type
This two-story single-family home of unprotected wood-frame balloon construction covered 1,200 square feet (111 square meters).
Smoke Alarms and Other Protection Devices
The presence or absences of smoke alarms was not reported, and there was no automatic suppression equipment.
Fire Origin and Path
The fire, of undetermined cause, broke out on a porch.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
On arrival, firefighters found the home fully involved in fire. They found two of the victims in the first-floor living room. Two more victims were also located in the living room, but authorities believe they had fallen from the second floor when the living room ceiling collapsed. The fifth victim was found in bed in a first-floor bedroom.

Georgia
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

April, 1:17 a.m., five (four under age six)
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type
This one-story, single-family home of unprotected wood-frame construction covered 4,176 square feet (388 square meters).
Smoke Alarms and Other Protection Devices
The house had neither smoke alarms nor suppression equipment.
Fire Origin and Path
This fire started in a first-floor family room, but the cause is listed as undetermined.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
When firefighters arrived, the house was fully involved in fire and had already vented through the roof. Heavy fire prevented firefighters from entering the home to rescue people. Eventually, two of the victims were found in the master bedroom, and the three children were located in another bedroom. One person, a juvenile, managed to escape through a window in the master bedroom.

Oregon
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

September, 6:09 a.m., five (three under age six)
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type
This was a single-family home. No additional information was reported.
Smoke Alarms and Other Protection Devices
No information was reported.
Fire Origin and Path
No information was reported.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
No information was reported.

Non-Residential Fires

Texas
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

April, 7:30 p.m., 15 (nine firefighters, one EMT, and five civilians)
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type, Operating Status
This was a one-story, 12,000-square-foot (1,115-square-meter) fertilizer plant of unprotected wood-frame construction.
Detection Systems and Suppression Systems
The plant had neither an automatic detection nor suppression system.
Fire Origin and Path
A fire of undetermined cause broke out in the seed and fertilizer building in the bulk processing plant, where pallets with bags of seed were stored. The fire burned for about 22 minutes before a huge explosion occurred.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
Between 28 to 34 tons (28,000 to 34,000 kilograms) of ammonium nitrate were stored in bins near the burning structure. Approximately 20 minute after the fire was discovered, the ammonium nitrate detonated, leaving a crater 90 feet (27 meters) wide by 10 feet (3 meters) deep. It damaged or destroyed more than 500 structures in a 37-block area, including homes, schools, and an elderly housing complex.

Texas
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

May, 12:07 p.m., four firefighters
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type, Operating Status
The fire occurred in a restaurant in a two-story motel complex that covered a floor area of 2,000 square feet (186 square meters). The construction type was not reported.
Detection Systems and Suppression Systems
No information was reported.
Fire Origin and Path
The cause of the fire was not determined.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
Firefighters were inside this restaurant fighting the fire when the ceiling collapsed, trapping and killing four of the firefighters and injured several others.

Arizona
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths
February, 3:20 a.m., three
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type, Operating Status
This one-story abandoned home of unprotected ordinary construction covered 1,800 square feet (167 square meters). It was occupied by four squatters.
Detection Systems and Suppression Systems
The house had neither smoke alarms nor suppression equipment.
Fire Origin and Path
The fire started in a bathroom, but its cause could not be determined.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
The victims were found in two bedrooms. One person was rescued by a passerby and a police officer, who pulled security bars off a window.

New Jersey
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths
February, 01:07 a.m., three
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type, Operating Status
This vacant three-story home of unprotected wood-frame construction covered 1,000 square feet (93 square meters). The building was occupied by three squatters.
Detection Systems and Suppression Systems
The house had neither smoke alarms nor automatic suppression equipment.
Fire Origin and Path
The fire, the cause of which could not be determined, broke out on the second floor and was listed as unintentional.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
A police office on patrol smelled smoke, investigated, and found the house on fire. The three victims were found on the third floor, where the spreading fire cut off their escape route.

Alabama
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

February, 07:44 p.m., three
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type, Operating Status
This two-story vacant and unsecured home was occupied by three squatters. The floor area and construction method were not reported.
Detection Systems and Suppression Systems
No information was reported.
Fire Origin and Path
The fire began on the second floor and involved an open flame. No other details were reported.
Contributing Factors and Victim Locations
No information was reported.

Texas
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

October, 3:20 a.m., three
Number of Stories, Occupancy Type, Construction Type, Operating Status
A group of four stationary travel trailers shared one common roof at a hunting camp.
Detection Systems and Suppression Systems
There were no smoke alarms present. The presence or absence of suppression equipment was not reported.
Fire Origin and Path
The fire’s cause was listed as undetermined, but investigators believed it started under the common roof.
Factors Hindering Occupant escape
Upon arrival, firefighters found multiple structures fully involved and were told that three people were unaccounted for. The three victims were later found in one of the trailers.

Non-Structural Fires

Arizona
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths
June, 4:47 p.m., 19 firefighters
Setting
This wildfire began in a boulder field in steep terrain with no vehicle access on a mountainous ridge 4,500 to 6,052 foot (1,372 to 1,845 meter) high.
Climate
This fire broke out on a red flag fire day with high heat, low relative humidity, and winds 10 miles (16 kilometers) per hour, with gusts of 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour. Thunder storms occurred during the afternoon.
Fire Origin and Path
A lightning strike caused this fire.
Factors Hindering Occupant escape
The firefighters had left a burned-over area and were traveling through an unburned area heading to an area with few combustible materials when a rapidly advancing fire that overtook them as they deployed their fire shelters. The air flowing outward from thunderstorms in the area reached the fire’s perimeter and changed the intensity and direction of the fire, eliminating the crew’s chance of reaching the safety zone. At this point, the firefighters had less than 2 minutes to improve a fire shelter deployment area. This fire burned 8,377 acres (3,390 hectares) and 114 structures.

California
Date, Time of Alarm, Number of Deaths

May, 10:12 p.m., five
Setting
This vehicle fire involved a stretch limousine in the right lane of a bridge on a highway.
Fire Origin and Path
The fire was caused by metal-on-metal friction heat from the rear drive shaft where it came in contact with the drive shaft tunnel. The fire department report indicates that there was enough heat to ignite the material covering the floor pan, the carpet, and the rear seat of the vehicle.
Factors Hindering Occupant Escape
At the time of the fire, a driver was nine passengers in the limo to a wedding shower. While on the road, the passengers saw smoke coming from the bottom of the rear seat and told the driver. After he was told about the smoke a second time, the driver stopped the car, and he and four passengers escaped from the vehicle. Of the four passengers who escaped, at least two were able to crawl through the small opening in the partition separating the driver from the passenger compartment. Another escaped through a door. Five passengers were trapped and died in the car.