Prospect Heights, IL Fire Leaves 96 Homeless: Where were the fire sprinklers?

Prospect Heights fire.jpg

Prospect Heights, IL -- A fire broke out at an apartment complex in Prospect Heights at 1:20pm on Wednesday, July 19.  It burned for hours, leaving dozens of families without a home.

As of 4pm, I was driving down Palatine Road and could see the massive flames from three blocks away and water hitting the building from the fire crews. However, fire crews were not able to contain it quickly and the building suffered.

The fire broke out in a main building and spread to two neighboring buildings in the four-building complex.  The top floor in the point-of-origin property is a loss with other areas heavily damaged.

The fire drew support from fifty communities to assist in containing the fire, and approximately 100 firefighters joined the fight. 

Luckily, no one was severely injured.  Two residents and a firefighter had minor injuries that they declined to treat.

This is the largest fire that Prospect Heights has seen in fifteen years.  

According to CBS News, a young boy was home alone and playing with fire.

Fire Sprinklers:  Where were they?

According to the fire chief on the scene, the building was a "glorified toothpick."  It was structurally sound, but if there was a fire, there was no mass or fire resistance to keep it from consuming the building.    

It was confirmed that there were no fire sprinklers in the building by the fire chief.


What would have been different if there were fire sprinklers?

Fire sprinklers are designed to extinguish or contain a fire at its point of origin.  If the building had been equipped with fire sprinklers, the fire sprinkler head closest to the fire would have activated.  If the one sprinkler head did not contain the fire, the next closest fire sprinkler head would have activated.  This would continue until it was contained and the heat could no longer travel to the next nearest sprinkler head.

In Conclusion

If fire sprinklers were present in the building, the fire would not have spread to the nearby buildings.  It is likely, that it wouldn't have even spread from the apartment it originated.

If you're interested in donating to the victims of the fire, you can donate to the Chicago area Red Cross home fire fund.