Spiral stairs, no sprinklers may have contributed to deadly Japan fire

Spiral stairs, no sprinklers may have contributed to deadly Japan fire

By Elaine Lies, Kiyoshi Takenaka

 

Capture.JPG

Firefighters conduct an investigation at the Kyoto Animation building which was torched by arson attack, in Kyoto, Japan, July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

 

TOKYO (Reuters) - The fire that tore through a building in Japan killing 33 people may have spread so fast not only because it was fueled by petrol but because it was funneled up a spiral staircase and there were no sprinklers to douse it, experts said on Friday.

 

A man shouting “die” and screaming accusations of plagiarism sloshed what appeared to be petrol in the three-storey Kyoto Animation building on Thursday before setting it ablaze.

That alone could have been enough to make it impossible for victims to escape, architects said.

 

But an open, three-storey spiral staircase inside the building created an especially deadly environment for fire.

 

“The structure of the building was that it had one spiral staircase penetrating through three floors acting as a chimney, the most effective way of starting a fire,” said Momoko Higuchi, a Tokyo-based architect.

 

“Because the fire was with petrol, the effect was like a bomb. Most died of smoke.”

 

The building did not have sprinklers, nor indoor fire hydrants, but it did not have to have them under Japan’s fire code, a Kyoto Fire Department official said.

 

An inspection of the building in October had found no fire safety problems, he said.

 

Buildings usually fall into different categories depending on size, said Shinichi Sugawara, a professor emeritus at Tokyo University of Science.

 

While fire shutters are often required around structures like spiral staircases, to enclose then to prevent the spread of fire, Sugawara said he had heard that they were not needed in this case.

 

Some Japanese media has said that was because of the building’s relatively small floor space.

 

“I personally think that all places like that should have shutters, and all buildings should have sprinklers, regardless of size,” he said.

 

But the most lethal factor may simply have been the petrol.

 

“Petrol vaporizes quickly and really burns fast, and given the kind of business it was, there may have been a lot of papers and things lying around,” Sugawara added.

 

“Then the smoke would rise up the stairs.”

 

reuters_logo.jpg

-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-07-19
Follow Thaivisa on LINE for breaking Thailand news and visa info
latest news from World

Kenya classroom collapse kills seven children, injures 64  NAIROBI (Reuters) - Seven children were killed and 64 injured when a classroom collapsed as students were starting their morning lessons at a school in Kenya’s capital Nairobi on Monday, officials said. Television stations showed images of...

READ MORE...

UK PM Johnson says: don't expect Brexit breakthrough in New YorkBy Kylie MacLellan FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at Downing Street in London, Britain September 20, 2019 Frank Augstein/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo NEW YORK...

READ MORE...

Bomb disposal officers respond to suspect package at UK's Manchester Airport Police officers are seen as a suspect package was found at Manchester Airport, in Manchester, Britain September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble LONDON (Reuters) - Bomb disposal officers carried out a controlled explosion on...

READ MORE...

British Labour leader Corbyn faces showdown with party members over BrexitBy Elizabeth Piper and William James Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers his keynote speech at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, Britain, September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Files BRIGHTON,...

READ MORE...
sponsors