A fire engulfed a three story building almost 100 years old and One Eighty was asked to investigate the cause of the fire.
The fire occurred close to midday and was first observed by passers-by. Considerable damage was caused to the building with the complete destruction of the roof and second floor and heavy damage to the first floor. The ground floor however was relatively undamaged by fire.
It was established that there was no power supply to the building and so any electrically-related issues could be eliminated as a possible source of the fire. Given that the building was unoccupied and no signs of forced entry were observed meant that there was no human activity considered to be responsible for the fire.
Examination of the building indicated that the fire originated on the first floor, in the area of a shared wall with the neighbouring building. A shared chimney with the neighbouring building was located behind the wall in this area. It was known that the neighbouring building’s residents used their fireplace regularly. An endoscope was passed down the chimney pipe and damage was noted to it at the same level as where the fire had appeared to have originated in the building. The chimney pipe was sealed and a smoke generator was deployed inside of it. Smoke was observed to emanate through the wall in the area of interest thereby indicating that heat had escaped from the chimney pipe into the fire-damaged building.
Figure 3: Smoke generated inside the chimney pipe of interest was observed to emanate from the circled area. Note the shared chimney stack at the top of the picture.
Figure 4: Endoscope image of the chimney pipe in the area where the fire originated showing how there is damage (absence of a smooth appearance) on the one side of the pipe’s interior (arrowed).
Figure 1: The destroyed building. Note the shared chimneys with the neighbouring properties.
Figure 2: The first floor of the building.
Hot gases from a fire in the fireplace of the neighbouring building passed up through a chimney pipe in the wall shared by the two buildings. However due to the advanced age and therefore poor condition of the building’s construction, heat was able to pass through a damaged area of the chimney pipe and walls into the building in question. This resulted in the ignition of ceiling joists that were mounted in the wall and the fire then spread throughout the remainder of the house.