Analysis of Carboxyhemoglobin and Cyanide in Blood From Victims of the Dupont Plaza Hotel Fire in Puerto Rico.
Analysis of Carboxyhemoglobin and Cyanide in Blood From
Victims of the Dupont Plaza Hotel Fire in Puerto Rico.
Levin, B. C.; Rechani, P. R.; Landron, F.; Rodriguez, J.
R.; Droz, L.; deCabrera, F. M.; Kaye, S.; Gurman, J. L.;
Clark, H. M.; Yoklavich, M. F.
Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 35, No. 1, 151-168,
blood; cyanide; hotels; carboxyhemoglobin; toxicology;
carbon monoxide; hydrogen cyanide; death
A fire that occurred during the afternoon of December
31, 1986 in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto
Rico claimed 97 lives and injured more than 140
individuals. This fire has been considered one of the
worst hotel fires that has occurred in this century and
has been compared to the MGM Grand Hotel fire in Las
Vegas, NV which claimed 85 lives in 1980 and the
Winecoff Hotel Fire in 1946 which took 119 lives. Most
of the articles and reports that have been written about
the Dupont Plaza Hotel fire have described the findings
of the investigation by the National Fire Protection
Association who worked in cooperation with the U. S.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the National
Bureau of Standards and Puerto Rican authorities. They
found that the fire was incendiary origin and was
started in a stack of new furniture that was stored in
corrugated boxes in a ballroom. This furniture, which
consisted of dressers (constructed of wood and particle
board) and soft beds containing foam mattresses,
occupied an area of approximately 5.5 x 9.4 x 1.8 meters
(18 x 31 x 6 feet). This initial fuel load plus other
materials which may have become involved in the fire
were sufficient to cause the ballroom to undergo
flashover and produce a flame front that rapidly spread
throughout the lobby and casino area. An enginering
analysis of the early stages of this fire estimated that
the flame front spread through the 437 m2 (4700 ft2)
casino (where most of the casualties were found) in 20
to 30 seconds. Both exits from the casino became
blocked when the lobby area also filled with smoke.