Today in fire history: Office fire causes $500,000 in property damage

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Jul 18, 2011

On July 18, 1988, at approximately 8:20 p.m. a fire started on the 34th story of a high-rise building in Los Angeles, CA. Workers were refinishing a combination credenza/bookcase by stripping the furniture with paint and varnish remover, cleaning the wood with a lacquer thinner, then applying new finish. The stripper was a Class II combustible liquid, and the lacquer thinner was a class IB flammable liquid. An arc occurred when one of the workers was removing finish around the electrical box. Despite the quick spread of the fire and presence of flammable and combustible liquids, severe damage was contained to three offices and a secretarial area.

Factors that helped to limit fire spread included:

  • office partitioning equipment
  • immediate notification of the fire department
  • adequate water
  • it was the evening, so firefighters could enter the building without being delayed by people who were evacuating

NFPA members can download this investigation report for free, and all visitors can download a fact sheet about fires in office buildings.

-Ben Evarts