Foxwoods Casino Fire
NFPA Journal®, May/June 2008
By Bob Duval
Four days after the fire at the Monte Carlo, another top-floor fire occurred in the mechanical space of the nine-story Great Cedar Hotel at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut. The fire was attributed to a malfunctioning heating cable in the gutters of the hotel’s standing-seam metal roof.
The Great Cedar contains a casino on the lower level, more than 300 guest rooms, and a VIP lounge on the floor below the mechanical space. The casino staff worked with emergency responders to evacuate the hotel tower and casino during the fire, relocating guests to another hotel on the property. The casino has an extensive fire-safety training program for all employees that includes evacuation training.
The battle to control the fire, reported at 11:47 a.m., resulted in a seven-alarm response by 16 local fire departments in addition to the Mashantucket Tribal Fire Department. Tribal Fire Department units arrived within minutes of the initial report and requested mutual aid as part of a regional assistance plan.
Firefighters had a difficult time reaching the fire, which burned between the gutter and the leading edge of the building wall. The area involved contained layers of copper flashing, metal roofing and fascia, and pressure-treated wood, which the heat from the malfunctioning heating cable ignited, starting a fire at the leading outside edge of the building and the uppermost level of the interior of the mechanical room.
Firefighters were unable to reach the burning area from the exterior due to the building’s height and setback, and had to battle the blaze mostly from the interior of the mechanical space. The building’s exterior walls consisted of EIFS panels fastened to a steel frame. While these panels were not burning, firefighters had to remove those installed where the wall met the eaves while checking for fire extension during the overhaul phase of the fire.
The fire was brought under control at 2:35 p.m., and units cleared the scene after an extensive overhaul at 7:00 p.m.
Fire damage was confined to a portion of the mechanical floor, which contained HVAC and telecommunications equipment, and the associated exterior surfaces. Water from suppression efforts damaged the seventh and eighth floors and the ninth-floor mechanical space. Around-the-clock work by maintenance and engineering staff allowed the hotel to open the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors the day after the fire. Most of the rooms on the seventh and eighth floors opened three weeks later, after the water-damaged items were cleaned and replaced.
Bob Duval is NFPA’s senior fire investigator.