Today in fire history: mall fires destoryed two-thirds of the shopping center

Blog Post created by paulalevesque Employee on Sep 20, 2014

A fire in the Brunswick Mall on September 20, 1983, destroyed two-thirds of the shopping center.  Smoke, heat, and water damaged the remaining stores.  The loss was estimated to be $11 million.  There were minor injuries to fire fighters, but no loss of life resulting from the fire.

The 195,000 square foot facility had a mall area of heavy timber construction.  The construction classification of the tenant or store areas was unprotected noncombustible.  There were no fire protection systems of construction design features designed to limit the spread of fire.  A fire department connection was provided, but was not connected to standpipe or sprinkler systems.

The fire occurred about 2:30 a.m.. when the shopping center was not occupied.  The fire had spread throughout much of the west end of the facility before the fire was reported.  The majority of stores were destroyed, except for the large Belk Hudson Department Store.

The Brunswick Mall was in violation of the State Building Code from the time it was built in 1968-69, until the fire on September 20, 1983.  The building was never awarded a certificate of occupancy.

Based on NFPA's investigative study, the following are considered to be major contributing factors to this large property loss fire:

   •     Construction features designed to limit the spread of fire were not provided,

            nor were there fire detection or fire alarm systems to provide prompt

            notification of a fire to the fire department.

  •     Approved automatic sprinkler protection was not provided in the shopping center.

  •     Readily accessible hydrant protection was not provided around the perimeter

            of the shopping center. 

To read the full NFPA Fire Investigation report. To learn about NFPA's Fire Analysis and Research stastical report Stores and Other Mercantile Properties