Interstate Bank Building Fire;
Falling glass and other debris created a major problem
during this incident. Virtually all of the exterior curtain
wall, from the 12th through 16th floors, was destroyed and
fell to the ground. The falling glass and debris caused
significant damage to pumpers hooked-up to the Fire Department
connections. The hose lines were cut several times and had
to be replaced, under the constant danger of additional
falling materials. The entire perimeter of the building,
for over 100 feet out from the walls, was littered with
Fortunately, a tunnel between the building and the parking
garage across the street provided a safe path into the building
at the basement level for both personnel and equipment.
Without this tunnel it would have been very difficult to
maintain the necessary logistical supply system and to avoid
injuries to personnel from the falling debris.
The windows were coated with a plastic reflective material
which caused them to hold together as they fell. The glass
fell in very large sections, some of which were flaming
due to ignition of the plastic coating.
The Incident Commander gave blanket approval for crews
to break windows to provide ventilation, since glass and
debris were already falling on all four sides of the building.
Firefighters reported difficulty in breaking the thick windows,
and the coating on the windows may also have been a factor
in this regard. A pick-head axe was found to be the most
effective tool for the job. (A Police sharpshooter offered
to shoot windows out from a helicopter, but the offer was
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