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.
Date May 4, 1988 (1988-05-04)
Venue First Interstate Tower
Location Los Angeles, California, United States
Coordinates 34°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
Type Fire
Cause Overloaded electrical system
Deaths 1
Non-fatal injuries 40

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. The fire destroyed five floors of the building, injured 40 people, and caused the death of a maintenance worker, when the elevator the worker was riding opened onto the burning 12th floor.[1]

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. A sprinkler system was 90% installed at the time of the fire, but 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. 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, grandfathering older buildings.

The fire's origin has been attributed to overloading of the building's electrical system by reactive distortion of lighting circuit currents.[2][not in citation given]

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

"Unusually good fireproofing"[edit]

According to the FEMA fire incident report on the subject, unusually good application of fireproofing on support members was a significant mitigating factor. The efficacy of the fireproofing was documented both by FEMA and IFC. Fireproofing of structural steel in the US is tested to ASTM E119 Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials.

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 21 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Glasband, Eric (November 1994). ""Lifting" the Grounding Enigma". MIX Magazine. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

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