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#TBT From The NFPA Archives: 1928 Explosions in Engelwood, CO

Blog Post created by jrodowicz Employee on Apr 18, 2019

Late in the morning on Friday, April 20, 1928, three explosions shook the property at the Alexander Industries plant in Engelwood, Colorado. At least eleven people lost their lives due to this tragedy.

The cause of the explosions was undetermined at the time, but it was widely believed that the ignition source was from an electric motor that sparked while operating a ventilation fan and then set fire to a pan of silver nitrate in the paint shop. This shop was used as a “Dope Shed” where airplane wings would be coated with a nitro-cellulose compound called “dope”. Because of the highly flammable nature of the materials involved, the fire spread quickly and destroyed most of the complex.

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives. 

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. 

Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public. 

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