Today in fire history: three people, including two firefighters, perish in athletic club fire

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Feb 5, 2012

On February 5, 1992, a fire occurred in a nine-story hotel and athletic club in Indianapolis, Indiana. The fire resulted in the deaths of two firefighters and one patron of the club. First responding firefighters found heavy smoke in the first-story lobby, and upon further investigation, discovered a room on the third story that was fully involved in fire. During suppression operations on the third story, a flashover occurred in the room adjacent to the room of fire origin. This sudden increase in the magnitude of the fire caused it to spread into several other areas and resulted in the deaths of two firefighters. Four other firefighters were injured. A patron of the club was later found dead in a stairwell, and four other civilians were injured. The Indianapolis Fire Department determined that the fire was unintentional in nature, and involved the ignition of wood paneling due to an electrical fault in a small refrigerator. NFPA’s investigation identified the following as significant factors contributing to the loss of life in this incident:

  • Lack of an approved automatic sprinkler system
  • Unprotected penetrations in wall and ceiling assemblies
  • Concealed spaces which increased hazard for fire suppression personnel
  • Combustible interior finish which included wood paneling on walls and ceiling tiles left in concealed spaces after a building renovation

NFPA members can read the full investigation report and all site visitors can read a summary in Spanish.