On September 3, 1991, an intense, fast-moving fire in a food processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina caused the deaths of 25 people and injured 54 more. The fire began at about 8:15 a.m. in the processing area of the plant. The cause of the fire was the ignition of hydraulic oil from a ruptured hose line, near a natural gas-fueled cooker. The rupture occurred during repairs, and the line began to discharge fluid at an estimated pressure of 800 psi onto the floor and onto the nearby cooker. Within minutes of ignition, the fire had dispersed hazardous products of combustion throughout most of the plant. Factors contributing to the loss of life included:
- Several building exits were blocked or locked and exits were insufficient in number
- The lack of internal walls or doors allowed rapid spread of smoke and fire throughout the structure
All site visitors can download a summarized fire investigation report which appeared in the January/February 1992 edition of NFPA Journal. NFPA also has a report regarding fires in industrial and manufacturing facilities that members can download, and a fact sheet available to all site visitors.