Today in fire history: high-rise hotel fire kills one

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Sep 8, 2011

On September 8, 1974 a fire began on the ninth floor of an eleven story hotel in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The fire eventually spread to the nearby elevator lobby and killed one motel employee who attempted to fight the fire. 

The fire was discovered by a maid making her rounds, who immediately pulled a fire alarm.  Hotel personnel responded to the scene to determine the extent of the fire, but decided not to open the door to the room.  The assistant manager arrived, decided to attempt to fight the fire, and opened the door to the room.  Inside the room, plate glass windows to the balcony were open and a strong wind drove the fire into the hallway.  The assistant manager was separated from the other employees; at this time, another hotel employee called the fire department.

Significant factors contributing to the severity of this fire included:

  • Delayed alarm
  • Failure of certain fire protection devices to function properly

NFPA members can read the Fire Journal article from January 1975.  NFPA also has a full report regarding fires in hotels and motels that is available free of charge to members, and a fact sheet, which is available to all site visitors.

-Ben Evarts