Published on November 1, 2016.

MANUFACTURING

Pennsylvania

Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

March, 4:53 p.m., $55,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a one-story, 214,500-square-foot (19,928-square-meter) glass manufacturing plant of unprotected noncombustible construction. The plant was operating at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems

No automatic detection or suppression was present.

Fire Development

The cause was listed as undetermined but unintentional in nature.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

None reported.

Pennsylvania

Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

June, 3:40 a.m., $40,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a one-story fertilizer manufacturing plant covering 136,000 square feet (12,635 square meters). The plant was closed for the night.

Fire Protection Systems

There was a system of smoke detectors, and they operated. There was no automatic suppression system present.

Fire Development

The cause of the fire was an electrical failure. No additional information was reported.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

None reported.

California

Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

September, 7:25 a.m., $31,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a three-story, 20,000-square-foot (1,858-square-meter) plant of unprotected ordinary construction that manufactured silk-screened promotional products. It was closed at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems

There was no information reported on automatic detection in the facility, and there was no automatic suppression equipment.

Fire Development

This was a fire of undetermined cause that began on the third story and is still under investigation.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

The estimated loss was $30 million to the structure and $1 million to the contents.

Idaho

Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

March, unreported time, $24,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a grain processing plant. No additional information was reported.

Fire Protection Systems

No information reported.

Fire Development

No information reported.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

Loss estimates were $12 million to the building and $12 million to the contents.

Michigan

Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

March, 1:41 a.m., $15,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a one-story, 180,000-square-foot (16,723-square-meter) metal plating shop of unprotected noncombustible pole-style construction. The plant was closed for the weekend at the time.

Fire Protection Systems

There was a system of smoke and heat detection equipment in the building. This system operated and notified a central alarm office that in turn notified the fire department. The fire department reported the alarm system was inefficient as it activated after a delay. There was no automatic suppression system present.

Fire Development

This fire began when an operating heating system used to heat chemicals for plating metals malfunctioned and ignited natural gas. This was listed as a mechanical failure of some type. This caused a torch-like effect in the room and superheated the room until all materials in the area ignited.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

Near the point of origin, there was an energized electrical substation, an area where water could not be applied. This allowed the fire to grow and several explosions occurred. There was a delay also in shutting down all the gas to the structure, as one of the two shutoff valves was in the area of heavy fire and smoke. The loss was estimated at $9 million to the structure and $6 million to the contents.

Pennsylvania

Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

January, 1:22 p.m., $10,750,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a two-story, 76,137-square-foot (7,073-square-meter) metal products manufacturing plant of unprotected ordinary construction. The operation status was not reported.

Fire Protection Systems

There was neither a detection nor a suppression system present.

Fire Development

This fire broke out in a bathroom on the first floor, but the cause has not been determined.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

The loss was estimated at $750,000 to the structure and $10 million to the contents (metal products). One firefighter was injured fighting this blaze.

Wisconsin

Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

May, 12:57 a.m., $10,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a two-story, 30,450-square-foot (2,830-square-meter) meat processing plant of fire-resistive construction. It was closed at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems

There was no automatic detection or automatic suppression equipment present.

Fire Development

The fire began in the first-level corridor knife room. The cause was listed as undetermined.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

The loss was listed as $5 million to the structure and $5 million to the contents.

WILDFIRE

California

Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

September, 1:24 p.m., $1,500,000,000

Setting

Wildland/urban interface fire. Fuels included conifers intermixed with hardwoods, Manzanita, and chamise.

Climate

The temperature at the time was 88 degrees F (31 degrees C), relative humidity was 12 percent, with winds 18 miles per hour (29 kph) and gusts of 30 mph (48 kph).

Fire Origin and Path

A hot tub had been installed on the rear porch of a home by the homeowner and the work was not up to code. Thermal resistance heating in a poor circuit connection with a wire nut resulted in the ignition of dry grass and leaves that were in contact with the connection. The fire then spread and developed into a massive wildfire.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

This fire, known as the Valley Fire, burned 76,067 acres (30,783 hectares) and destroyed 1,958 structures, including 1,280 single-family homes, 27 multi-family properties, 66 commercial properties, and 585 minor structures. Another 93 structures were damaged. Four people died in the fire. Three of the victims were in their homes and one was located outdoors near his car. 77 firefighters were also injured in the fire, including four who sustained serious burn injuries when they became trapped in their initial attack on the fire and had to deploy their shelters.

California

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

September, 2:26 p.m., $450,000,000

Setting

Wildland/urban interface fire.

Climate

Average temperature was 76 degrees F (24 degrees C) with a maximum of 102 degrees F (39 degrees C). The humidity was 8 percent, winds were 4 miles per hour (6 kph) with gusts at 13 mph (21 kph). Conditions were very dry; there had been only a little over 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain during the year, preceded by several years of drought.

Fire Origin and Path

The fire was caused when a pine tree contacted an electric power line. Burning embers dropped into fine dead fuels and ignited a wildfire. The fire was not fully contained until about three weeks later.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

This fire, which became known as the Butte Fire, burned 70,868 acres (28,328 hectares) and destroyed 965 structures, of which at least 475 were homes. Two people, aged 80 and 66, died in separate homes after ignoring an evacuation order. One person was injured. No information on firefighter injuries was reported.

Washington

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

August, 8 p.m., $22,000,000

Setting

Wildland/urban interface fire.

Climate

Temperature was 82 degrees F (28 degrees C). No other conditions were reported.

Fire Origin and Path

After investigation, the cause of the fire remains undetermined.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

The fuel included timber, litter, grass, and light logging slash. The fire destroyed 42 structures, 18 of which were homes, and burned 63,972 acres (25,888 hectares). One person suffered a fatal heart attack while escaping.

California

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

February, 2:07 p.m., $15,811,560

Setting

This was a wildland/urban interface fire.

Climate

The weather was 74 degrees F (23 degrees C) and clear, with 8 mph (13 kph) shifting winds. Humidity was 26 percent and there was no precipitation at the time of the fire.

Fire Origin and Path

The cause and origin are listed as undetermined at this time.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

This fire destroyed 53 structures and burned 7,000 acres (2,832 hectares). The estimated loss was $13,476,560 to structures and $2,335,000 to the contents.

California

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

September, 3 p.m., $10,000,000

Setting

Wildland/urban interface fire.

Climate

Temperature range was 84 to 92 degrees F (29 to 33.3 degrees C), humidity 15 percent, winds 15 mph (24 kph) gusting to 20 mph (32 kph), with no precipitation for that day or month and only 2.9 inches (7.3 centimeters) of rain, year to date.

Fire Origin and Path

The cause is listed as undetermined at this time but authorities are investigating that the fire may be connected to a person committing suicide.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

The fire burned over 1,100 acres (445 hectares). Eighteen structures were destroyed. The area had drought conditions and high fire danger at the time of the fire. One civilian died in this fire. Estimated loss was $8 million to the structures and $2 million to the contents.

RESIDENTIAL

Texas

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

April, 4:41 p.m., $19,955,800

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a three-story, 36,540-square-foot (3,395-square-meter), 70-unit hotel of unprotected ordinary construction. The hotel was open and occupied when the fire broke out.

Fire Protection Systems

There was a detection system present, but the type, size, and operation of the system were not reported. There was also a wet pipe sprinkler system present, but no additional information was reported.

Fire Development

The fire started on an exterior wall, but its cause was undetermined.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

The loss was estimated at $19,855,800 to the structure and $100,000 to the contents.

Maryland

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

January, 3:31 a.m., $16,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a two- and three-story, 16,386-square-foot (1,522-square-meter) single-family home of unprotected ordinary construction. The home was occupied by a family of six at the time the fire broke out.

Fire Protection Systems

There were smoke alarms present. The system activated and alerted an alarm company that in turn notified the fire department. Minutes after the alarm activated, several 911 calls were received from neighbors. There was no automatic suppression equipment present.

Fire Development

The fire is believed to have started in the great room when an electrical failure ignited plastic and the tree skirt under a 15-foot (4.5-meter) Fraser fir Christmas tree. No additional information was reported on the spread of the fire. The home was totally destroyed with major collapse of the structure.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

The Christmas tree had been cut down in mid-November and put in the home in early December. The lights were left on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it was watered approximately once a week. All six occupants died in the fire. It took investigators several days to locate and recover the bodies from under the collapse. Five of the victims were located in debris of the three bedrooms, and the sixth body was located in the great room. The victims included two adults and their four grandchildren.

Georgia

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

June, 3:20 a.m., $12,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was an apartment building in a retirement community. No additional information about the structure was reported.

Fire Protection Systems

No information reported.

Fire Development

The fire started in a billiards room on the third floor in the area of an air-conditioning unit. The cause was listed as unintentional.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

One person, 91 years old, died in this fire.

Oregon

Month, Time of alarm Dollar Loss

April, 2:45 p.m., $10,800,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a three-story, 16,000-square-foot (1,486-square-meter), 30-unit apartment building of protected, ordinary construction. The building was occupied at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems

There was a complete coverage heat/smoke detection system that operated and notified a central alarm company. There was no automatic suppression system present.

Fire Development

The fire began on the third story, but the cause remained undetermined after an investigation.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

Upon arrival, firefighters found the third floor was well involved with fire. The fire was well-seated and protected by heavy construction and insulation. Firefighters fought this fire for five days and debris was pulled apart by heavy equipment to allow full extinguishment. The building was a total loss, with damage listed as $6.3 million to the structure and $4.5 to the contents.

VEHICLE

Nebraska

Month, Time, Dollar Loss

April, 6:25 p.m., $62,400,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a fire onboard a military reconnaissance aircraft while taking off on a training flight. The pilot aborted the takeoff and came to a safe stop off the runway.

Fire Protection Systems

No information was reported on automatic protection or suppression equipment in the aircraft.

Fire Development

A connection in the oxygen system onboard the plane was not tightened down and came loose during takeoff, causing the galley to fill with oxygen. The ignition source for this oxygen-fed fire was not reported. Airport fire apparatus arrived within four minutes and extinguished the fire.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

The 27 crew members safely evacuated the aircraft within two minutes. Four aircraft crewmembers were treated for minor smoke inhalation.

Ohio

Month, Time, Dollar Loss

November, 2:55 p.m., $11,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This incident involved a small business jet aircraft with seven passengers and two crew members. The aircraft crashed into a four-unit apartment building of unprotected ordinary construction and instantly caught fire.

Fire Origin and Path

The aircraft crashed into the second story of a four-unit apartment building and JP-4 fuel caught fire immediately. The fire burned the aircraft and apartment building and spread to two additional buildings of unprotected ordinary construction. The cause of the crash is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

This was a fatal fire, and the medical examiner’s office reported that four of the nine occupants of the aircraft died of inhalation of products of combustion and/or thermal injuries and the other five died of multiple blunt-force trauma. The loss was estimated at $10 million to the structure and $1 million to the contents. No loss was listed for the aircraft as it was destroyed on impact. For more information see the Nation Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report online.

PUBLIC ASSEMBLY

California

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

July, 2:38 p.m., $31,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a two-story, 10,000-square-foot (929-square-meter) church of unprotected ordinary construction. There was no one in the structure at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems

It is not known if there was any automatic detection or suppression equipment present.

Fire Development

A brush fire extended to the exterior roof and attic of the church. The fire resulted in an early roof collapse due to lightweight construction and heavy fire load.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

Fire suppression efforts were hampered by poor access for firefighters, inadequate water supply, and drought conditions in the area. Two firefighters were injured fighting this blaze. The estimated loss was $30 million to the building and $1 million to the contents.

Tennessee

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

January, 10:23 p.m., $10,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a one-story county administrative building of unprotected ordinary construction. Its size was not reported. The building was closed for the night.

Fire Protection Systems

Smoke/heat detection equipment was present and operated. There was no automatic suppression system present.

Fire Development

The cause of the fire was not determined, but it started in a service area and involved the floor covering.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

Cold weather hindered suppression operations, with freezing equipment and water and frozen ladders. Loss was estimated at $1.5 million to the structure and $8.5 million to the contents.

SPECIAL PROPERTIES

California

Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

November, 4:30 a.m., $12,600,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

No information was reported other than it was a three-story vacant former ice house of unprotected ordinary construction.

Fire Protection Systems

No information reported.

Fire Development

No information reported.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

None reported.

Kentucky

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

July, 4:31 p.m., $11,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a four-story commercial property of heavy-timber construction that was under renovation. The square footage of the structure was not reported. There was no one in the building at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems

There was no automatic detection equipment present. There was a full-coverage automatic suppression system present. It did not operate because it had been shut down prior to the fire.

Fire Development

This fire started in the basement when hot slag or sparks from an acetylene torch or grinder ignited old wood during welding or cutting operations earlier in the day. No information was reported on the spread of the fire.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

The loss was estimated at $11 million for the structure.

STORAGE

Kentucky

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

April, 6:51 a.m., $110,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a two-story, 600,000-square-foot (55,742-square-meter) warehouse of unprotected noncombustible construction. The structure was used for the storage of appliance parts and included some office space. The building was partially operating with limited staff.

Fire Protection Systems

There was a system of heat and smoke detection with unreported coverage and operation. There was a wet-pipe sprinkler system in the building. The coverage and operation of the system were still under investigation.

Fire Development

The fire began on the first level rack storage area, but the cause was listed as undetermined after an investigation. No information was reported on the spread of the fire.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

First due apparatus were unavailable, having responded to other emergencies due to large storms in the area, so there was a delay in fire department arrival. Flooded or blocked roadways also hindered the arrival of fire apparatus. Firefighters went off the property to locate additional water sources, as only one fire pump out of eight was flowing water from the warehouse complex’s pump house. The building was a total loss, with $50 million in damage to the structure and $60 million to the contents.

Pennsylvania

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

October, 1:23 p.m., $10,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a one-story, 84,000-square-foot (7,800-square-meter) warehouse of protected ordinary construction. The warehouse was open and operating at the time of the fire.

Fire Protection Systems

There were smoke alarms and they operated. There was also a wet-pipe sprinkler system present. The system operated but was ineffective because the sprinkler heads were above the racks and water could not reach the fire.

Fire Development

The cause and origin of the fire are undetermined.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

No information reported.

INDUSTRY

Ohio

Month, Time of Alarm, Dollar Loss

November, 12:37 p.m., $14,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a two-story electrical transformer of unprotected noncombustible construction that was in operation at the time. The size was not reported.

Fire Protection Systems

A detection system was present and operated. Its type and coverage were not reported. There was a dry pipe sprinkler system present. The system did operate but was listed as ineffective, although the reason was not reported.

Fire Development

The fire was caused by an electrical failure of unknown type that caused arcing and ignition of transformer oils.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

The fire spread to a second transformer.

EDUCATIONAL

California

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

September, 7:37 p.m., $11,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a two-story, 4,000-square-foot (372-square-meter) elementary school and administrative offices of unprotected wood-frame construction. The operating status was not reported.

Fire Protection Systems

There were smoke and heat detectors present. Their coverage was not reported but they did operate. There was no automatic suppression equipment present.

Fire Development

The cause of the fire was undetermined but was reported to have started in a first-floor garage/storage area and involved wood structural members.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

Upon arrival, firefighters immediately went to a defensive firefighting mode due to heavy fire conditions. Firefighters had difficulty accessing the building due to excessive storage of combustible materials and the presence of several gallons of flammable liquids. The estimated loss was $10 million to the structure and $1 million to the contents.

STORES and OFFICES

Pennsylvania

Month, Time of Alarm Dollar Loss

June. 9:23 p.m., $10,000,000

Property Characteristics and Operating Status

This was a three-story business office building of unprotected ordinary construction.

Fire Protection Systems

No information reported.

Fire Development

No information reported.

Contributing Factors and Other Details

No information reported.