Today in fire history: hotel fire kills ten

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Jul 31, 2012

Ten people died and 82 others were injured in a fire in a Cambridge, Ohio hotel on July 31, 1979.  The fire was discovered in the early morning hours by two people playing a pinball machine in a passageway between guest rooms and the lobby area.  They smelled and then saw smoke, sounded the building’s fire alarm, and then ran into the hotel lounge to ask a hotel employee to call the fire department.  The fire apparently started in the corridor on the first floor (specific ignition details were unavailable to NFPA at the time of the investigation).  The fire spread rapidly and occupants quickly became trapped in their rooms.  Some escaped by breaking room windows (or escaping through windows broken by passersby).

Factors contributing to the loss of life in this fire included:

  • Combustible interior finish
  • Unprotected vertical openings
  • Inadequate notification of the occupants

NFPA members can download the full investigation report for free.