Published on November 2, 2015.

STRUCTURES UNDER CONSTRUCTION OR RENOVATION

TEXAS

Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss
March, 12:26 p.m., $50 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This was a five-story, 396-unit, 375,000-square-foot (34,839-square-meter) apartment complex of unprotected wood-frame construction that was still under construction. Workers were on site.

Fire Protection Systems
There was no automatic detection or suppression equipment.

Fire Development
The cause and origin have not been determined. The complex was in the final stages of construction, but some areas were still open, allowing a strong wind to blow through and spread the fire. Flying brands damaged a nearby house, and several automobiles were damaged in a parking area near the building.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
As firefighters set up for a defensive attack on the fire, a worker was spotted on a balcony on the fifth floor. As fire began spreading from the building behind him, he dropped to the fourth floor, where firefighters rescued him with an aerial ladder.

CALIFORNIA
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

March, 4:55 p.m., $40.9 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This was a 322,000-square-foot (29,915-square-meter), six-story apartment building of unprotected wood-frame construction that was under construction. The fire department report did not reveal whether anyone was at the site at the time Fire Protection Systems
There was no automatic detection or suppression equipment.

Fire Development
A fire broke out on the building’s roof when a smoldering object ignited structural members. It was not reported what that object was.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
The loss to the structure totaled $40.5 million, with an additional $450,000 in damage to its contents. Two firefighters were injured fighting this fire.

CALIFORNIA
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

December, 1:20 a.m., $27.1 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This was a seven-story, 180,000-square-foot (16,723-square-meter) apartment building of unprotected wood-frame construction that was under construction. No one was at the site at the time.

Fire Protection Systems
There was no automatic detection or suppression equipment.

Fire Development
This was an incendiary fire, but the point of origin was not reported.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Arriving firefighters used heavy-stream equipment from the ground and aerial ladders to attack the fire, which was so intense that it damaged several nearby structures, including a 16-story office building. Damage was listed as $24.6 million to the structures and $2.5 million to the contents.

IOWA
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

March, 12:52 a.m., $22 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This former department store was a 37,488-square-foot (3,483-square-meter), eight-story building of unprotected ordinary construction that was undergoing renovations. There was no one at the site at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems
The building had no automatic detection or suppression equipment. Both systems had been removed for renovations. A standpipe system was present, but it was not reported if this system was used.

Fire Development
The cause and origin have not been determined.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Upon arrival, firefighters found the top two floors fully involved in flames.

TEXAS
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

July, 6:09 p.m., $20 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This five-story, 300-unit, 60,000-square-foot (5,574-square-meter) apartment building of unprotected ordinary construction was under construction. Workers were on site at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems
There was no automatic detection equipment. A full-coverage wet-pipe sprinkler system had been installed, but it was not yet operational.

Fire Development
A worker grinding and cutting metal caused a small fire in a wall, which travelled up the wall and spread laterally throughout the building.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
The worker who started the fire thought it had been extinguished and continued working. Arriving firefighters found that the hydrants in the area were inoperable, but the cause of the problem was not reported.

MARYLAND
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

April, 4:11 a.m., $17 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This four-story, 149-unit, 30,000-square-foot (2,787-square-meter) apartment building of unprotected wood-frame construction was under construction. No one was at the site at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems
An automatic detection system had been installed, but it was not yet operational. Its type and coverage were not reported. There was also a full-coverage automatic suppression system of unspecified type installed, but it was not yet operational.

Fire Development
The fire started in a fourth-floor hallway when a 225,000 BTU heater placed within 8 inches (20 centimeters) of stacked wooden millwork ignited the wood. The heater was used to dry drywall compound.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
The fire spread into voids in the attic and throughout the building. Arriving firefighters went into a defensive attack due to the amount of fire visible.

WISCONSIN
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

August, 7:30 p.m., $10 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This 105-unit, 150,000-square-foot (13,935-square-meter) apartment building of unprotected wood-frame construction was under construction. No one was at the site at the time.

Fire Protection Systems
The automatic detection and suppression equipment had yet to be installed.

Fire Development
The fire of undetermined cause broke out on the third floor.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
This was a wind-driven fire. Firefighters also protected 12 nearby single-family homes, which sustained some heat damage. Two firefighters were injured fighting this fire.

STORES AND OFFICES

KANSAS
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

October, 9:50 a.m., $61.5 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This one-story, 60,000-square-foot (5,574-square-meter) flight safety building was operating and occupied.

Fire Protection Systems
The fire department report did not indicate if the building had a detection or automatic suppression system. It was reported, however, detectors would not have made a difference due to the type of incident.

Fire Development
Shortly after takeoff, a twin-engine aircraft crashed into the wall and roof of the flight safety building. It slid across the roof, causing its fuel cells to leak jet-fuel, which caught fire instantly. The burning jet-fuel ran down into the building.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
The pilot of the plane and three people in a flight simulator inside the building died in this fire.

OHIO
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

March, 1:15 p.m., $20 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This was a 25,440-square-foot (2,363-square-meter), three-story mercantile building of heavy-timber construction that contained numerous businesses, which were open and operating.

Fire Protection Systems
There was no automatic detection or suppression equipment.

Fire Development
The fire of undetermined cause broke out on the roof, which was being worked on at the time. The fire spread horizontally through many of the building’s voids and concealed spaces.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Multiple roofs and ceilings had been added over the older ones during previous renovations, hampering firefighters’ efforts to reach the hidden fire. Two firefighters were injured fighting this fire.

ILLINOIS
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

November, 3:56 a.m., $17.2 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This was a two-story, 180,588-square-foot (16,777-square-meter) department store of unprotected-ordinary construction. There was no one in the store at the time.

Fire Protection Systems
A smoke detection system operated, but the coverage was not reported. A wet-pipe sprinkler system also operated and contained the fire.

Fire Development
The fire broke out in a rear shipping and receiving area when an arc from an electrical short circuit in a heater above cardboard boxes of goods ignited the stack of boxes.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
HVAC smoke evacuation units were switched off at the time of the fire, allowing the smoke to spread throughout the store. No reason was given as to why they were off. Damage to the structure was estimated at $25,000, while smoke damage to its contents was estimated at slightly more than $17.1 million.

TEXAS
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

October, 10:13 p.m., $15 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This one-story department store of unprotected ordinary construction was operating and occupied. The ground floor area was not reported.

Fire Protection Systems
The store had complete coverage detection equipment of an unreported type, which operated and alerted the occupants. Two of the building’s wet-pipe sprinklers also operated and helped control the fire. The sprinkler system coverage was not reported.

Fire Development
This fire was intentionally set in the storage area.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Damage to the structure was estimated at $15,000, while smoke damage to its contents was estimated at $15 million. One civilian was injured during the fire. An arrest has been made in the arson case.

WISCONSIN
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

May, 1:50 a.m., $15 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This was a four-story, 366,379-square-foot (34,038-square-meter) office building of protected non-combustible construction. There were a few workers and a security officer in the building.

Fire Protection Systems
A full coverage heat and smoke detection system operated. A partial-coverage wet-pipe sprinkler system was not in the area of the fire and did not operate.

Fire Development
A fire of undetermined origin broke out under a desk in a cubicle.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Arriving firefighters found that the fire had burned until it depleted the oxygen in the area, leaving a small fire burning that they quickly extinguished. However, the building ventilation system did not operate, allowing the entire structure to fill with smoke. The area of origin, a large room with 66 cubicles and numerous electronic appliances and computers, was heavily damaged by fire, heat, and smoke. The detection system sounded a general alarm, so firefighters had to search the entire building for the fire.

CALIFORNIA
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

February, 11:52 a.m., $12 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This one-story, 12,500-square-foot (1,161 square-meter) auto repair shop was open and operating at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems
No information was reported.

Fire Development
The fire was started by a welding torch, but no further information was reported. Upon arrival, firefighters found the shop fully involved and went to a defensive attack.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
The fire also damaged several vehicles parked near the building. Damage to the structure was estimated at $2 million, and damage to its contents, the vehicles, and repair equipment was estimated at $10 million.

STORAGE

CALIFORNIA
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

September, 6:41 p.m., $100 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This fire occurred on and beneath a 150-foot-long (46-meter-long), 20,000-square-foot (1,858-square-meter) pier of heavy timber construction that contained a steel warehouse. The pier was in use at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems
There was no automatic detection or suppression equipment.

Fire Development
The fire was started along the top of the pier by a welding operation, although the sequence of events was not reported. Arriving firefighters found heavy smoke and a fire burning under the pier in creosote-soaked timbers.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Firefighters aggressively attacked the fire from the top of the pier, from fire boats, and with divers in the water. During the fire, two cargo ships were moved to a safer location, and several shipping terminals were closed as port workers were evacuated. Firefighters reported that the fire was also burning beneath a large steel warehouse on the pier. Fire caused the warehouse’s floor to collapse and large rolls of steel wire to spill into the water below. This added to the dangerous conditions firefighters faced. Damage to the pier was estimated at $100 million, and damage to the contents of the warehouse was estimated at $200,000

WISCONSIN
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

December, 6:59 p.m., $25 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This 1,200-square-foot (111-square-meter), two-story dry goods warehouse of unprotected ordinary construction was part of a cheese packaging plant. The warehouse was operating at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems
The building had no automatic detection equipment. A dry-chemical suppression system was present, but it was not located in the area of the fire and did not operate.

Fire Development
This fire of undetermined cause began behind a cardboard box in a shipping and receiving area.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Workers discovered smoke and flames behind a row of palletized cardboard boxes and used at least two extinguishers in an unsuccessful attempt to extinguish the fire. As the fire grew, the building was evacuated. Arriving firefighters found it extremely difficult to reach the seat of the fire because of the heavy smoke and high heat in the warehouse. They tried several times to attack the fire, even trying to breach concrete walls, to no avail. Finally, a large ventilation fan was brought to the scene and put into operation, allowing firefighters to enter the warehouse and extinguish the remaining fire. Structural damage was estimated at $3 million, and damage to the contents of the warehouse was estimated at $22 million.

OHIO
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

August, 4:11 p.m., $20 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
The ground floor area of this five-story grain elevator of unprotected-ordinary construction was not reported. The facility was operating at the time of the explosion and fire.

Fire Protection Systems
There was no automatic detection or suppression equipment.

Fire Development
The cause and origin have not been determined.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Seven workers and inspectors were injured in the explosion and fire.

GEORGIA
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

June, 7:31 a.m., $19.5 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This 200,000-square-foot (18,581-square meter), 20-foot-high (6-meter) warehouse of unprotected noncombustible construction was operating at the time of the fire. It contained finished hardwood lumber.

Fire Protection Systems
There was no automatic detection or suppression equipment.

Fire Development
This fire began in a storage area, but the cause has not yet been determined.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Arriving firefighters found heavy fire and smoke showing from the building and initiated an interior attack. Shortly thereafter, they switched to a defensive attack when they became aware that finished lumber was stacked up to 18 feet high (5.5 meters) inside the building. During the fire, firefighters from more than 38 fire departments responded with 88 pieces of apparatus and more than 220 firefighters. By the time the fire was extinguished, three days later, millions of board feet of finished hardwood lumber had been destroyed. One firefighter was injured fighting the fire.

INDUSTRY

SOUTH CAROLINA
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

August, 1:57 p.m., $25 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This was a three-story, 7,200-square-foot (669-square-meter) compressor building of unprotected, noncombustible construction at a gas distribution plant that was operating at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems
An automatic detection system, the coverage of which was not reported, operated. There was no automatic suppression equipment. The plant fire department was on scene when the local fire departments arrived.

Fire Development
The cause and origin have not been determined.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Upon arrival, firefighters found heavy fire in the building. When they determined that the building had been structurally compromised, they initiated defensive operations. As they extinguished hot spots after bringing the fire under control, fire crews saw a severe thunderstorm approaching and lowered all aerial equipment to wait out the storm before continuing their work. Damage to the structure was estimated at $2 million, while damage to its contents was estimated at $23 million.

ILLINOIS
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

April, 1:27 p.m., $10 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This two-story, 10,000-square-foot (929-square meter) nuclear energy plant was operating at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems
The fire department report contained no information about automatic detection or suppression equipment.

Fire Development
The fire broke out in the electrical system when an arc from a short circuit ignited wiring.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
The fire burned in an area containing a large amount of electrical supplies and equipment for the operation of the plant. Structural damage was estimated at $5 million, and damage to the facility’s contents was estimated at $5 million.

RESIDENTIAL

TEXAS
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

November, 1:51 a.m., $22 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
The residents of this 9,000-square-foot (836-square-meter), three-story single-family home of unprotected wood-frame construction were at home at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems
There was a full coverage of smoke alarms, which operated and notified the residents. There was no automatic suppression equipment.

Fire Development
The fire broke out in a first-floor utility crawl space when a spark or flame from a natural gas fireplace ignited structural members below it. The fire spread throughout the house through numerous voids.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Firefighters had difficulty reaching the fire in the void. The structure damage was estimated at $13 million, and damage to its contents was estimated at $9 million. One firefighter was injured fighting this fire.

MANUFACTURING

IOWA
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

March, 7:15 p.m., $30 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This one-story, 181,210-square-foot (16,834-square-meter) meat packaging plant was of unprotected, noncombustible construction. The plant was operating at
the time.

Fire Protection Systems
The automatic detection system operated. Its type and coverage was not reported. The automatic wet-pipe sprinkler system was not located in the area of the fire and did not operate.

Fire Development
The fire occurred when various combustibles and plywood wall coverings ignited during welding operations. No additional information was reported.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
The building’s roof collapsed, but the fire department report did not say at what point during the fire this occurred or if it hindered firefighting operations. Damage to the structure was estimated at $15 million, while damage to its contents was estimated at $15 million.

VEHICLE

CALIFORNIA
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

June, 9:10 a.m., $25 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This fire occurred aboard a 102-foot (31-meter) yacht that had been taken out of the water and propped on stilts for maintenance work.

Fire Protection Systems
There were automatic detection and suppression systems in the boat’s engine and mechanical rooms, although their type and operation were not reported.

Fire Development
The cause and origin has not been determined.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Workers spotted the fire and notified the fire department. It was not clear whether it was workers in the boat yard or at this yacht who spotted the smoke.

TEXAS
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

June, 2:47 p.m., $10 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
The size and contents of this cargo ship, which was docked, were not reported. Workers were on the ship at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems
No information was reported.

Fire Development
The fire started when hot embers from a cutting torch ignited railroad ties. No addition information was reported.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Damage to the ship was estimated at $2 million, while damage to its cargo was estimated at $8 million. The type of cargo was not reported. Two firefighters were injured fighting this fire.

TEXAS
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

July, 5:13 p.m., $10 million

Property Characteristics & Operating Status
This fire involved six trucks at a gas well site. It was not reported if anyone was at the site at the time.

Fire Protection Systems
No information was reported.

Fire Development
The fire began when a part failed, but the sequence of events was not reported.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
Arriving firefighters found six trucks burning, exposing a 250-gallon (946-liter) barrel of hydrochloric acid and explosives. The trucks were carrying pumps, drilling equipment, or equipment used at drill sites.

WILDFIRE

CALIFORNIA
Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

May, 11 a.m., $29.8 million

Setting
This wildland/urban interface fire complex included 14 different fires burning in grass and brush and wooded areas over the same period of time. A complex is defined by the U.S. Forest Service as two or more individual fires located in the same general area that are assigned to a single incident commander or unified command.

Climate
On the days of the fires, the temperature was 94 degrees F to 103 degrees F (34 degrees C to 39 degrees C), the relative humidity was in single digits, and winds of 6 to 16 miles (10 to 26 kilometers) per hour were gusting up to 24 miles (39 kilometers) per hour.

Origin and Path
At the time, the cause of only one of the 14 fires was listed as unintentional and involved sparks from power equipment being used at a construction site. The causes of the other 13 fires were undetermined.

Contributing Factors and Other Details
The area was suffering a drought with only a trace of rain reported in the month before the outbreak, and only a few inches in the previous year. Temperatures were very hot with gusty winds, and it was considered a high-risk wildfire day. The fires burned 26,000 acres (10,522 hectares) and destroyed 65 structures, including 46 single-family homes. During the fires, 121,000 residents were asked to evacuate their homes.