Exploratory Investigation into the Fatal Fire in De Punt, the Netherlands

Report Date: June 2008

On May 9, 2008, three firefighters lost their lives in a shipyard in de Punt, the Netherlands due to a sudden fire spread. The fire took place in a large commercial shed used for boat storage and maintenance. It started in the workshop area at the rear of the building and spread through ductwork to the attic. The hot gasses caused the insulation in the ceiling to deteriorate, adding more flammable gasses to the attic area. The first arriving crew observed heavy yellow-brown smoke drifting from the rear of the building. From the front, no smoke was visible and the only crew on scene decided to advance into the building from the front to extinguish the fire at the rear. During the advancement, conditions in the rear continue to deteriorate, unbeknownst to the firefighters. Suddenly, the gasses at the ceiling ignited and a pressure wave knocked down the firefighters, one at the door and three inside. This was followed immediately by a column of high heat, flames, and thick, black smoke that were forced through the building and out of the front door. Additional crews arrived and attempted rescue operations, but the three firefighters succumbed to the conditions. These investigations and recommendations, available below, should be used to learn from tragedy in an effort to avoid similar losses in the future.


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Helsloot, I. E. Oomes, and R. Weewer. Exploratory investigation into the fire in De Punt, the Netherlands. Instituut Fysieke Veiligheid, the Netherlands, 2008.

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