Investigators say closing doors keeps fires from spreading

Deadly NY fire blamed partly on open doors
At least 17 people died Sunday in an apartment building fire in New York City. Investigators believe open doors helped the fire spread.
Posted at 7:07 PM, Jan 10, 2022

CINCINNATI — Open doors helped spread a fire Sunday that killed at least 17 people in a New York high-rise apartment building, according to fire investigators.

More than 60 people were injured in the blaze.

"I don't know what the conditions were in that building, but there had to be an avenue for that smoke to travel to the upper floors," Green Township Fire Marshal Rick Bell said.

Fire departments across the country have urged residents for years to keep doors closed when they go to sleep and close doors during fires. Capt. Bell said research shows closing doors can save lives of people in closed rooms during building fires.

"I think it's 100% difference. It's significant," Bell said.

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The Fire Safety Research Institute has shown the dramatic difference between heat and smoke exposure in closed rooms and open rooms during a fire. A fire erupted in a Westwood apartment building on Dec. 1, 2021. Cincinnati Fire Department investigators said the blaze would have been much worse if the resident of the burning apartment hadn't closed her door as she evacuated.

Bell said it is also important to make sure your smoke detectors have working batteries. He recommends a combination photo electric and ionization smoke detector, which has a P and an I on it.

"It will sense a free burning fire and a smoldering fire, so it will cover both types of fires," Bell said.

Bell said it is also important to have a plan for how you'll get out of your home. So, if there's a fire in your home, you have a better chance of reducing damage and surviving.

The Fire Safety Research Institute has more resources on the website Close Your Door.

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