Today in fire history: propane fire in restaurant causes extensive damage

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Jul 30, 2011

On July 30, 1985, a fire erupted from a 20-pound LB gas cylinder beneath a steam table in the main dining room of a restaurant in Seaside Park, NJ. Everyone in the building, including 75 to 80 patrons, as well as employees and two occupants of the second floor, narrowly escaped.

According to investigators, the fire was caused when a flexible metal hose used to connect a 20-pound LP-Gas cylinder to a steam table failed. Ignition quickly followed, likely from either residual flame at the steam table, or by "sterno" cans that heated trays of food at the adjacent table. Some patrons felt trapped due to the proximity of the fire to the dining room exit. Bystanders outside of the restaurant broke out windows, allowing these patrons to escape. Damage to the restaurant and its content was estimated at $205,000 (Over $400,000 in today's dollars).

This fire demonstrates the hazard that improper use of LP-Gas can pose, and the importance of complying with NFPA 58.

Members can read the full investigation report, as well as a report about fires in eating and drinking establishments, all site visitors can download a free fact sheet and the report's executive summary.

-Ben Evarts