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August 20, 2015 Previous day Next day


On June 27, almost 500 people were injured in a horrific incident at a water park in Taiwan when a colored powder exploded. As of August 12, eleven people have died and dozens of victims remain in intensive care. Some of the injured suffered burns on 80 to 90 percent of their bodies. 

This incident cast a spotlight on the potential dangers of this powder, which is used especially in North America at events like color runs. Few people realize that the powder is readily ignitable when dispersed as a dust cloud. 

Corn starch, the primary ingredient in the powder distributed at the Formosa Fun Coast event, can be easily ignited. FOX News reported the possibility that a cigarette or spark served as the ignition source that triggered the explosion of colored powder as it was being sprayed into the crowd from a stage. Wang Wei-Sheng, a liaison with the New Taipei City fire department command center, reinforced this premise, stating during an interview with USA Today that the powder ignited along the ground, mainly burning people's lower bodies.

"Holi powder," named after a Hindu festival, is sold under several brand names such as Hippie Powder. A quick online search for Holi powder also shows that there are easy homemade recipes that feature readily available ingredients such as corn starch, food coloring and water.

According to NFPA's Guy Colonna, division manager of Industrial and Chemical Engineering, corn starch is a combustible solid that forms a very fine powder and can create a combustible dust cloud. Spraying the powder over the crowd as was done in Taipei enhances the dust cloud dispersion and formation. At many events, the material is distributed via compressed air cylinders which can potentially cause an ignition hazard from generation of static charge.

The unfortunate June incident in Taiwan has prompted many questions across the globe about the use of colored powder at high-traffic events. We will keep you posted on new insight concerning "Holi powder" and other flammable powders that are in play these days.

NFPA INSIDER is a live, bi-monthly online session — an added benefit for NFPA members only — that features expanded news and content from the latest issue of NFPA Journal and other NFPA sources.

August InsiderIn this month's NFPA INSIDER, on Thursday, August 27th at 2:00 pm (EDT), members will hear:

  • Jim Pauley, President of NFPA, discusses this year's Fire Prevention Week initiatives and the importance of community involvement in educating the public.
  • Dawn Bellis, Division Manager of Codes & Standards, provides an overview of council actions on standards that were presented at the recent NFPA technical meeting.
  • NFPA Journal explores drones, robots and the coming revolution in unmanned systems and their potential for first responders and emergency managers.

Members: register today to attend. Not a member? Learn more about the many benefits and join today!

Fire break augustThe August issue of Fire Break, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division newsletter, is now available for viewing. In this issue, we focus on our October Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina! Inside you’ll find:

  • A link to the descriptions of the special presentations and keynote address 
  • Registration information
  • Information about the exhibitors    
  • Descriptions of the nearly 50 education sessions  

...and much more. We want to continue to share all of this great information with you, so don’t miss an issue! So subscribe today. It’s free! Just click here to add your e-mail address to our newsletter list.






!|src=|alt=August20|style=width: 407px;|title=August20|height=434! On August 20, 1984, a fire onboard the Cruise ship M/V SCANDINAVIAN SUN, while docking at the Port of Miami, resulted in two fatalities and fifty-seven injuries among passengers, crew and City of Miami fire fighters.  The rapidly spreading fire forced many of the passengers, who were in the process of disembarking, to remain on board until the fire was extinguished.  The fatalities, one passenger and one crew member, were eventually found in their cabins during the search of the ship.

The fire was discovered just after the ship had completed docking.  The fire, which originated in the auxiliary engine room, was caused by the ignition of atomized lubricating oil leaking from a diesel engine driving one of the ship's generators.

Products of combustion were able to extend vertically six decks above the main engine and auxiliary machine rooms by way of a ladder access way and through an open passageway and watertight doors.  Doors leading to passageways on several of the upper decks were also open during the initial stages of the fire which allowed dense smoke and heat to extend horizontally into crew and passenger cabin areas.

The spread of fire and heavy smoke conditions were mainly confined to the port side of the ship, although starboard side portions of the cruise ship were also affected.

The following are considered to major factors contributing to the loss of life in this fire:

  •     The failure to extinguish the fire in its incipient stage by either automatic

            of manual means.

   •     The rapid and intense flash fire resulting from the ignition of a combustible

            lubricating oil.

   •     The rapid horizontal and vertical spread of products of combustion throughout

            the ship caused mainly  by  open fire doors.

    •     The presence of combustible interior finish materials in passageways and

            in the stair tower.   


For more information on this fire&#0160;NFPA Fire Investigations</p>



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