Today in fire history: fire at chemical manufacturing facility leaves one employee dead

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Aug 18, 2012

On August 18, 1995, a fire at a chemical manufacturing facility in Tonawanga, NY, resulted in the death of one employee, as well as injuries to five other employees, two firefighters, and one bystander.  The fire destroyed the entire warehouse and another 1,500 square feet of office space in the same building, totaling an estimated $3 million in damage ($4.5 million today).

Fire investigators determined that the fire was accidental and probably caused by decomposing ammonium persulfate.  The material had been manufactured about 14 hours before the fire, and a production problem apparently caused it to chemically decompose; and the reaction generated sufficient heat to ignite nearby wooden pallets.  Once ignited, the fire grew rapidly and became large enough to ignite the warehouse’s combustible roof, causing it to collapse before firefighters arrived.

NFPA members can read the full investigation report for free.