Today in fire history: 15 perish in boarding house fire

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Jul 4, 2012

On July 4, 1984, a fire in a three-story, unsprinklered structure in Beverly, Massachusetts, used as a boarding house, resulted in the death of 15 residents and injury to nine others.  A total of 36 residents occupied the second and third floors, and firefighters, assisted by police, rescued approximately nine guests over ground ladders from the building.

Investigators from the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office determined that the fire was incendiary in nature, and once ignited, the fire spread quickly, involving the stairway and exit access corridor.  The significant factors contributing to the loss of life in this incident are considered to be:

  • The nature of the ignition scenario
  • The open stairway
  • Combustibility of the interior finish
  • Delay in notifying the fire department

NFPA members can download the full investigation report for free.