Entry page » Investigation reports » Other accidents » Investigation reports by year » 1998 » C1-C2/1998Y Fire at a Spa Hotel in Oulu on 26 April 1998 and at a Rehabilitation Centre at Siilinjärvi on 27 September 1998

C1-C2/1998Y Fire at a Spa Hotel in Oulu on 26 April 1998 and at a Rehabilitation Centre at Siilinjärvi on 27 September 1998

Fire at a Spa Hotel in Oulu on 26 April 1998

After 10 o'clock in the morning a fire broke out in the open kitchen of the lobby restaurant at the spa hotel Eden in Oulu. As a result, all the guests and personnel in the building had to be evacuated. No one was injured, but the material damage was over 700,000 euros.

The waiter working in the spa's pool bar and lobby restaurant was setting up the kitchen for the arrival of the chef. Among other things, he turned on the grill, the pizza oven and the deep-fry cooker. However, the cooker had been emptied of oil the previous evening, which is why its heating coils overheated and the oil left at the bottom of the cooker caught fire. There was no one near the cooker when the fire broke out, though fairly soon the pool section supervisor came by and noticed the event; after a moment, the automatic fire detector also gave an alarm.

The personnel remembers having used three portable fire extinguishers in an attempt to extinguish the fire, but they were unsuccessful as the fire had then spread into the ventilation duct and other areas. A factor contributing to the failure of the initial extinguishing attempts was that the first extinguisher to hand was empty. The fire brigade arrived in seven minutes from the automatic alarm and was rapidly able to contain the fire.

The cause of the fire was that the waiter inadvertently turned on the empty oil cooker. The oil level was below the heat-regulating thermostat, which is why the oil overheated and flash ignited. From the cooker the fire spread rapidly because of the low-hanging extractor hood and the presence of plenty of combustible material around the cooker. The fire also spread into the ventilator duct and through it up to the roof. Plenty of smoke spread into the lobby and to several other sections of the hotel, including all floors containing guest rooms. To the guest floors the smoke spread primarily through the lift well.

Fire at a Rehabilitation Centre at Siilinjärvi on 27 September 1998

Slightly before half past one on the Sunday night a fire broke out in the drinks bar of a rehabilitation centre situated in the Vuorela village in Siilinjärvi. As a consequence, two customers were slightly injured. The fire caused a risk of death to about 30 persons. The material damage came up to about 550,000 euros.

The night porter of the rehabilitation centre was in a room behind the reception area when she heard abnormal sounds. On coming out to the reception she noticed the reflections of flames in the windows towards the bar. She immediately phoned the regional Emergency Centre and the night nurse on the ward for patients requiring assistance. The night nurse arrived in the reception, and the two took portable fire extinguishers and attempted to put out the fire. However, the fire had spread to such an extent that the attempts had to be given up. It was only after this that the automatic fire detector gave an alarm, as there were only manual call buttons in the section where the fire had broken out. The fire detector system was located in the adjacent fire section. The night porter went to close the fire doors leading to the hotel wing, and the night nurse returned to the ward to assist the patients in getting out of doors.

During the night in question there were 27 guests accommodated on the second floor above the fire. As the bar windows broke, the flames shot up above the windows of the guest room floor. The guests were woken by the fire detector buzzer, by noise or by other guests. Some of them attempted to get out through the main door. However, as the smoke was thick at the bottom of the stairs, the guests exited through two other routes: some of them to a level section of roof and others through the loading bay to the eastern side of the building. However, one guest got out through the main door despite the smoke and suffered from smoke poisoning. Later the fire brigade and the police assisted those on the roof to come down by a ladder. One of the guests received a foot injury while moving on the roof.

The first fire brigade units arrived in 12 minutes after the alarm. At that time the fire had not spread outside the bar, so that it could be rapidly extinguished. However, smoke had spread to the restaurant, the main lobby, the meeting rooms on the ground floor and to the ward of patients requiring assistance. The smoke was able to spread to other fire sections because of the faulty functioning of the automatic fire doors, an open ventilation hatch and the deficient insulation of the sectioning walls.

The probable cause of the fire was a fault in the start relay of the cooler basin in which beverages were cooled and stored in the drinks bar, as a result of which the refrigerating machine ignited.

Recommendations

In order to prevent other similar fires and to diminish their consequences, the Accident Investigation Board recommends that the structures of fire sections are improved as regards lift doors, automatic fire doors and the impermeability of sectioning walls. The fire safety of kitchens should be improved through a better attention to order and cleanliness and through improvements in oil cookers. Moreover, all buildings should have reserve fire extinguishers, the audibility and recognisability of evacuating alarms should be improved, fire detectors should be installed in all fire sections and the fire safety of interior construction and decorating materials should be improved.

C1-C2/1998Y Report (pdf, 1.15 Mt)

 
Published 27.9.1998