On 11/21/1980 the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino fire in Las Vegas, Nevada killed eighty-four and injured 650 people, most from smoke inhalation, of the approximately 5,000 people that were staying in the 26-story 2,000-room luxury resort hotel and casino. At about 7:00 a.m. a fire started in the “Deli” restaurant. Caused by an electrical ground fault within a combustible concealed space in the waitresses’ serving station. After the complete involvement of the Deli, a flame front moved through the Casino. Smoke and toxic gases rapidly spread to the high-rise tower via stairways, seismic joints, elevator hoistways, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) air handling systems. The means of egress from the high-rise tower was impaired by smoke spread into stairways and corridors. The fire was primarily contained in the casino; most deaths were on the upper floors of the high-rise hotel. “The disaster led to the general publicizing of the fact that during a building fire, smoke inhalation is a more serious threat than flames. Seventy-five people died from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, four from smoke inhalation alone, three from burns and smoke inhalation, only one person died from burns alone, and one person died from massive skull trauma, caused by jumping from a high window.” “The fire was caused by an electrical ground fault inside a wall soffit. The wiring inside the wall was used to power a refrigeration unit for a food display cabinet in the deli. The vibration of the machine caused the wires to rub against each other, and the friction-damaged wires arced and caused a fire, which was detected hours later by a hotel employee. The fire spread to the lobby, fed by wallpaper, PVC piping, glue, and plastic mirrors, racing through the casino floor at a rate of 15–19 feet (4.6–5.8m) per second [10 to 12 MPH] until a massive fireball blew out the main entrance along The Strip. Seven people died in the casino. The burning material created toxic fumes and smoke, which caused the majority of the deaths.” “Due to faulty smoke dampers within the ventilation duct network, the toxic fumes circulated throughout the hotel’s air circulation system, accelerating the spread of the poisonous air.” “Most deaths occurred in the stairwells, where the doors were locked behind each person as the only open doors in the stairwell were on the roof and the ground floor.” “The fire was confined to the casino and restaurant areas. The hotel was equipped with a fire sprinkler system that performed properly by keeping the fire out of that section of the building. The area with the most fire prevention was in the money counting area, not in individual rooms or on the casino floor.” “The casino and restaurants were not protected by a fire sprinkler system because they were exempt from rules requiring fire sprinklers in areas occupied 24 hours a day. A Clark County building inspector granted the exemption despite the opposition of fire marshals. When the fire broke out, The Deli Restaurant was no longer open 24 hours per day.” “National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) studies show that in this fire the hotel occupants did not exhibit panic behavior. Instead, many took rational steps to preserve their lives. Examples of this include putting towels around doors (to block out smoke), notifying other occupants, offering refuge in their rooms, and using wet towels for their faces.” “The hotel was repaired and improved, including the addition of fire sprinklers and an automatic fire alarm system throughout the property, and sold to Bally’s Entertainment, which changed the name to Bally’s Las Vegas. Similar upgrades were also made to the nearly identical property (now the Grand Sierra Resort) in Reno, Nevada. The tower in which 85 people died is still operating as part of the hotel today. A second tower, unaffected by the fire, opened in 1981.” “The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino tragedy is one of the worst disasters in Nevada history, and the third-worst hotel fire in modern U.S. history, after the 1946 Winecoff Hotel fire in Atlanta that killed 119 people and the Dupont Plaza Hotel, San Juan, Puerto Rico fire on December 31, 1986, in which 97 perished.” “On February 10, 1981, just 90 days after the MGM fire, another fire broke out at the Las Vegas Hilton. Because of the two incidents, there was a major reformation of fire safety guidelines and codes.”
On 11/21/1968 four Wichita, Kansas firefighters were killed while fighting a fire at the Yingling Chevrolet Company on English and Topeka Streets. A bowstring truss roof collapsed six minutes after arrival trapping them under burning debris and steel. “At 9:12 p.m., a passer-by reported a fire at the auto dealership. The first units arrived on the scene at 9:14 p.m. and transmitted a second alarm while pulling out of fire station 2 quartered two blocks away. Heavy dark smoke was reported to be showing from the structure. Firefighters stretched lines into the building and encountered heavy smoke in the service bay area. It was reported that no smoke or heat was present upon their entry, and the showroom lights were still on. But heavy fire was found in the cockloft space above, which was used for parts storage. About 30 seconds a thunderous crash occurred; the entire roof over the showroom floor had collapsed with heavy fire now showing… Approximately six minutes after arriving on the scene the bowstring truss roof collapsed claiming the lives of four firefighters and about six other firefighters who were in or near the structure were briefly trapped but quickly rescued… This fire is historically significant as it was the first recognized collapse of a bowstring truss roof that claimed multiple firefighters’ lives. Ten years later, on August 2, 1978, six firefighters were killed at a supermarket fire in New York City when the bowstring truss roof collapsed during firefighting operations. And again, 10 years later, on July 1, 1988, five firefighters were killed when the bowstring truss roof collapsed at a Ford Dealership fire in Hackensack, New Jersey.
On 11/21/1933 a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firefighter “died of smoke inhalation at the Sun Ray Drug Store at 801 N. 63rd Street.”
On 11/21/1950 a Lexington, Kentucky firefighter “died of an apparent heart attack while pulling fire hose from Engine #6 at the scene of a mutual aid structure fire in Wilmore, KY. Around noon, Engine Company #6, then the Lexington station placed farthest to the south end of the county, was dispatched to assist Jessamine County fire crews with a large fire at the Wilmore Post Office, a two-story structure in the business district. Upon arrival, the firefighter was pulling an attack hose from Engine #6 with his crew when he collapsed. Despite the efforts of other firefighters, he died before reaching the hospital. The fire, which was one of the largest in Wilmore’s history, caused over $50,000 in damage to the large Wilmore Post Office. The fire was later found to have been caused by turpentine-soaked rags self-igniting in the basement of the structure.”
On 11/21/1955 a Baltimore, Maryland firefighter died “at a fire in a two-story brick dwelling, he was helping to position a ground ladder, when he collapsed and died of an apparent massive heart attack.”
On 11/21/1961 a fire at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton Ohio killed two firefighters in a structure fire collapse caused by faulty wiring
On 11/21/1968 a Kenosha, Wisconsin firefighter “died while fighting a basement fire at 1212 58th Street. He collapsed in the basement when his oxygen (air) supply ran out. He was rescued, but efforts to revive him failed.”
On 11/21/2013 in Riga, Latvia forty-five people were killed and thirty-five injured in Maxima supermarket, a grocery store, when the 5,300-square foot roof collapsed; three firefighters were killed and ten injured when a second part of the roof collapsed. There was a garden on the roof as part of the supermarket’s original design completed in November 2011.
On 11/21/2014 in Lansvale, Sydney, Australia a fire at a plastics factory started at 3:30 p.m. and rapidly spread through the industrial site to a storage area containing timber and scaffolding, thick black smoke dominated the Sydney skyline forcing the closing of the Hume Highway.
On 12/21/2014 a rapidly developing fire ripped through a Christmas Shop as a large number of festive season shoppers watched in Murraygate, Dundee Scotland.
On 11/21/2009 early in the morning fire ripped through an Ocala, Florida home killing the mother and her four children ages 6, 4, 2 years, and 3 months old; the fire rapidly spread through the manufactured home constructed in 1972. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) laws changed in mid-1974 mandated window sizes for escape and drastically restricted flammable paneling. Also, a mother and her three children ages 5 and twins age 4 died in an apartment fire in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
On 11/21/1976 in Long Island City, New York the American Chicle Gum Factory explosion and fire killed one of the 150-night shift employees working.
On 11/21/1895 a portion of the business district was destroyed by fire in Chicago, Illinois.
On 11/21/1847 the Steamer Phoenix explosion and fire claimed more than 160 lives near Sheboygan, Wisconsin
On 11/21/1916 the Britannic, sister ship to the Titanic, sank in the Aegean Sea killing thirty.