5 World’s Worst Fire Accidents That Traumatised the World

The following 5 are the World’s Worst Fire Accidents that traumatized the world. These accidents not only traumatized the world but forced us to ponder over establishing and abiding by mandatory rules, regulations, and laws for the prevention of fire catastrophes.


Great Chicago Fire

Date: October 8 to 10, 1871

Venue: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Location: South, North, and Central Chicago.

Cause: Uncertain

Deaths: Estimated 300

Loss: ($ 222 million, 1871 US) ($ 593 billion as per 2018 USD)

The fire started about 9 PM on October 8, 1871, around a small barn. The cause of ignition was not certain but was supposed to be from a lantern. The fire spread widely due to hot dry windy conditions after a long drought. At that time most of the buildings and also city walks were made of wood and topped with highly flammable tar or shingle.

Fire left from the South of the Chicago River to the North consuming Central Chicago. Roughly 8.5 sq.km of the central City area had been destroyed. Fire destroyed 17,500 buildings making one lakh people homeless.

All the below factors comply with turning a small greenery fire into a conflagration with a loss of 300 lives and a myriad of properties.

  • In 1871, The Chicago Fire Department had only 17 horse-drawn Steam Pumpers and just 185 firefighters.
  • Initially, firefighters and Pumpers were sent to the wrong place.
  • A large scale of Wooden constructions.


Deepwater Horizon Fire Accident

Date: April 20 to September 19, 2010

Venue: Semi-Submersible Rig, Deep Water Horizon.

Location: In the Gulf of Mexico, Coats of Louisiana, US.

Type: Fire in an oil well.

Cause: Explosion in fire well.

Deaths: 11

Nonfatal injuries: 17

Coats: Payment of compensation ($65 billion)

Deepwater Horizon was a semi-submersible offshore drilling rig owned by Transocean, the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor. There was a massive explosion on April 20, 2010, at about 10 p.m. in the Gulf of Mexico. Investigations stated that an oil well was sealed with a concrete mixture. Abnormally extra pressure had accumulated inside a marine riser. It came up and expanded triggering an ignition with a blast through a concrete core.

The blast resulted in 11 deaths and 17 nonfatal injuries. The rig immersed in the massive fire then capsized and sank. The fire in the well persisted for up to four months, four weeks, and two days with the emission of an estimated about 60,000 barrels per day. About 1,49,000 sq. km of the US Gulf Coast was covered in oil. The spillage of oil caused massive harm to Marine life. An estimated 8 lakh birds and 65,000 marine animals perished.

Forensic Analysis reveals that there was a malfunction of many types of equipment such as:

  • Blind shear ramps (massive blades)
  • Bending of pipes carrying oil
  • Punctures in pipes carrying natural gas


Date: 23 December 1995.

Venue: Rajiv Marriage Palace, Mandi Dabwali.

Location: Mandi, Dabwali, District Sirsa, Haryana, India.

Type: Building Fire.

Cause: Short Circuit.

Deaths: 500 including 258 children.

Cost:  Compensation of ₹ 34 Crores

On December 23, 1995, about 1500 parents and children gathered for the Annual Day celebration of DAV Public School, Mandi, Haryana, India. The function was arranged under a canopy in the compound of Rajiv Marriage Palace. Suddenly a huge fire blazed from the sparks off with a short circuit in an electric generator. The fire spread within a minute and blocked the main entrance. More than 500 people including 258 children became victims of this ferocious mishap.

Investigations reported that,

  • The marriage hall was an unauthorized construction without municipal clearance.
  • Any fire prevention or fire fighting provisions were not installed.
  • The canopy was made up of synthetic fabric that melted and stuck to the skin.
  • Plastic chairs and coir mats caught fire within seconds.
  • The school management had locked the main gate of the compound.
  • Many of the children died in a stampede as 1500 people tried to escape through a single exit door.

This blood-curdling tragedy forced the Indian Government to introduce Laws and Safety Guidelines for marriage halls.


Date: November 19, 1993

Venue: Zhili Toy Factory

Location: Southeastern City of Shenzhen, China.

Type: Building Fire

Cause: Supposed to be a fault in the machinery

Death: More than 100

Nonfatal injuries: about 50

Cost: Though declared, the factory has not handed over any compensation to victims.

On the night of November 19 -20, 1993 a sudden blaze arose from the ground floor of Zhili Toy Factory, China. The cause of the fire was supposed to be friction in the machinery room that was attached to the material depot. The incident tolled more than 100 lives and about 50 severe injuries.

There was only a single exit and a fire escape but both were locked.

The Fire Brigade arrived after 30 minutes of the blaze and found dead bodies in a heap at a locked exit. Deaths were more due to suffocation and being crushed while trying to escape than by burns.

The investigation Report accounted that,

  • The factory had breached Safety Regulations. Worker’s dormitories, production facilities, and storage all were in one Building.
  • Bars were added to windows.
  • Exit doors and fire escape were locked during working hours.
  • Firefighters ran short of water.

This incident at the workplace, geared up the China Government to perfect Hong Kong’s legal system with the “Draconian Security Law”.  The Security Law includes a column about the assurance of Human Right Protection, and criminal penalties without a legislative process for breaching safety laws.


Date: March 25, 1911

Venue: The Triangle Shirtwaist Industry, Manhattan, NY

Location: Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City, USA.

Type: Industrial Fire

Cause: Unextinguished Cigarette Butt

Death: 146 deaths of which 123 were women and girls and 23 men.

Nonfatal Injuries: 78

The Triangle Shirtwaist Industry fire is the topmost World’s Worst Fire Accident. This deadliest mishap horrified the whole world.

On Saturday, March 25, 1911, a fire broke about 5 PM on the 8, 9 & 10 floors of an Asch building in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, NY. The Shirtwaist factory had accommodated those three floors. The fire spread within a few minutes throughout the 3 floors as fabrics lay everywhere.

It was supposed that the cause of the fire was the disposal of an unextinguished cigarette butt in a scrap bin full of fabric cuttings.

Workers rushed to the exit gate but doors of stairways and elevators were closed. Many of the workers jumped from the high windows to escape but died by falling onto the concrete pavement below. Others died due to inhalation of smoke or burns.

Firefighters found a 6 ft high pile of bodies jammed up against a stairway door. Among the 146 fatalities, 123 were women and girls most of them aged between 14 to 23. The Asch building still stands today and is known as the Brown Building as it got its color from a frantic fire in 1911.

The investigation Report revealed some Implausible facts,

  • The doors of stairways, elevators, and fire escape were locked during working hours. The foreman possessing the keys had already escaped.
  • The warning alarm was not installed.
  • In place of fire extinguishers, buckets were placed. Those were also empty at the time of the mishap.
  • There was only a rusted single-iron fire escape that collapsed quickly.
  • The Fire Department’s ladders were not long enough to reach above the 7th floor.

The Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire struck up the fight for the safety of workers at workplaces. It also led to legislation necessary to improve industrial safety standards.

The New York State Legislature had established a ” Factory Investigation Commission” to investigate and report Remedial Measures of Legislation to prevent hazards through fire.

The first Fire Protection Protocol was composed after The dreadful tragedy of The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.


The protocols state that

  • All interior doors are designed to open out.
  • No exterior doors are locked during working hours.
  • Installation of Sprinkler systems is mandatory, where more than 25 employees are working.
  • Regular fire drills should be conducted so that employees are trained in successful evacuation from the building in an emergency.

You must read Fire Safety Laws Which Every Employer Should Know

These tragic World’s Worst Fire Accidents should never have taken place. The losses and fatalities could never be recovered. Every businessman has to study them thoroughly. Take lessons about, what steps were missing, what mistakes had done; and What should be done or not done. Try to improve Safety Procedures accordingly.

Read How To Avoid Fire At HomeClick Here

Don’t be blacklisted in the OSHA’s list of citations. Keep your people safe ultimately your business will automatically be safe.

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