Today in fire history: a fire occurred on the third floor of the conference facility killing 26 and injuring 24 others

Blog Post created by paulalevesque Employee on Dec 4, 2014



On December 4, 1980, a fire occurred on the third floor of the conference facility at the Stouffer's Inn of Westchester, which was located in Harrison, New York.  Of approximately 95 occupants who were attending meetings in several conference rooms, 26 persons lost their lives and 24 were injured.  The fire did not involve guest rooms facilities of the hotel complex.

The fire originated in an exit access corridor outside the meeting rooms in the three-story, fire resistive, nonsprinklered building that was classified as a place of assembly.  In the early stages of the fire, meeting-room occupants were faced with rapidly deteriorating, untenable conditions that impeded their escape to safety.  This fire emphasizes the importance of maintaining the integrity of exit access areas and the extreme hazard to life safety when fire originates in such areas.

The significant factors contributing to the loss of life in this fire were:

  • the critical location of the fire in the intersection of the exit access corridors;
  • the rapid development of the fire through the combination of its origin and
  • the available fuel load provided by contents and furnishings in the exit access;
  • the lack of a remote second means of egress from some occupied meeting rooms; and
  • the lack of a fixed fire protection system to detect and extinguish the fire in itsincipient stage.   

For the full report download the NFPA Fire Journal article.