Today in fire history: fire at hotel conference facility claims 26 lives

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Dec 4, 2011

On December 4, 1980, a fire occurred on the third floor of the conference facility at an inn in Harrison, New York.  Twenty six people lost their lives and 24 were injured.  The fire originated in an exit access corridor outside the meeting rooms, and in the early stages of the fire, occupants were faced with untenable conditions that impeded their escape to safety.  As determined by local investigators, the fire was incendiary in origin and involved a flammable liquid on the carpet.  The following were significant factors contributing to the loss of life in this incident:

  • The critical location of the fire in the intersection of the exit access corridors
  • The rapid development of the fire through the combination of its origin and the available fuel load
  • The lack of a remote second means of egress from some occupied meeting rooms
  • The lack of a fixed fire protection system to detect and extinguish the fire in its incipient stage

NFPA members can download two Fire Journal articles about this incident.