First Interstate Tower fire

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First Interstate Tower fire
First Interstate Tower fire.png
The First Interstate Tower, with several floors burning.
DateMay 4, 1988 (1988-05-04)
VenueFirst Interstate Tower
LocationLos Angeles, California, United States
Coordinates34°2′57.2″N 118°15′25.7″W / 34.049222°N 118.257139°W / 34.049222; -118.257139Coordinates: 34°2′57.2″N 118°15′25.7″W / 34.049222°N 118.257139°W / 34.049222; -118.257139
CauseOverloaded electrical system
Non-fatal injuries40

The First Interstate Tower fire was a high-rise fire that occurred on May 4, 1988, at the First Interstate Tower (now Aon Center) in Los Angeles, California, a 62-story, 860 foot (260 m) skyscraper, then the tallest building in the city. The fire destroyed five floors of the building, injured 40 people, and caused the death of a maintenance worker, when the elevator he was riding opened onto the burning 12th floor.[1][2]

Causes and results[edit]

The fire's origin has been attributed to overloading of the building's electrical system by reactive distortion of lighting circuit currents.[3][failed verification]

The fire was so severe because the building was not equipped with a sprinkler system, which was not required for office towers at the time construction was completed in 1973. Although a sprinkler system was 90% installed at the time of the fire, the system was inoperative, awaiting the installation of water flow alarms.[1] The fire was eventually contained at 2:19 AM, and caused $50 million in damages.

According to the FEMA fire incident report, unusually good application of fireproofing on support members was a significant mitigating factor. The fireproofing used to protected the steel was Monokote supplied by GCP Applied Technologies (formerly W. R. Grace).

Repair work took four months. Because of the fire, Los Angeles building codes were changed, requiring all high-rises to be equipped with fire sprinklers. This modified a 1974 ordinance that only required new buildings to contain fire sprinkler systems.

Cultural references[edit]

The fire was dramatized in the 1991 telefilm, Fire: Trapped on the 37th Floor, starring Lee Majors, Lisa Hartman Black and Peter Scolari.[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Technical Report, Interstate Bank Building Fire". United States Fire Administration. Archived from the original on 2010-07-13. Retrieved 2009-11-21.
  2. ^ Becklund, Laurie (1988-08-27). "Open Fire Door Blamed in First Interstate Death". The L.A. Times. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  3. ^ Glasband, Eric (November 1994). ""Lifting" the Grounding Enigma". MIX Magazine. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
  4. ^ Jones, Charisse (1990-10-25). "Adding Film to the Fire : Re-Enacted for TV, First Interstate Blaze Is Relived by Survivors". The L.A. Times. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  5. ^ Tucker, Ken (1991-02-15). "Review: Fire! Trapped on the 37th Floor". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2017-10-19.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]