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Catastrophic multiple-death fires

Report: NFPA's "Catastrophic Multiple-Death Fires in 2016"
Author: Stephen G. Badger
Issued: September 2017


Report highlights

  • Twenty-one catastrophic multiple-death fires resulted in 160 fatalities.
  • The deadliest fire of the year occurred in a California warehouse where 36 people were killed.
  • Eleven of the fires were in homes, resulting in 65 deaths, with 12 of the victims under age six.
  • Eight of the fires were in non-home structures, and resulting in 65 deaths.
  • Two non-structure fires claimed 30 lives or almost 19% of those killed in multiple-death fires.

Fires in assembly occupancies have shown to be some of the most deadly when the proper features, systems and construction materials were not present. Nightclubs, theaters and auditoriums differ from office buildings because they contain a large number of people in one main space. 


A fire at an Oakland, CA, warehouse killed at least 30 people on December 2, 2016. Warehouses present special challenges for fire protection because their contents and layouts are conducive to fire spread and present obstacles to manual fire suppression efforts. See NFPA's "Structure Fires in U.S. Warehouses" report.

Older versions of the report
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