The fire that raged through President Donald Trump's famous New York skyscraper and headquarters, Trump Tower, and killed residential tenant Todd Brassner on April 7 appears to have been the result of too many power strips, the New York Fire Department said today.
Firefighters on scene after a blaze destroyed a unit in Trump Tower on 7 April 2018. Photo: AP
According to the FDNY, fire marshals - the agency's police force handling serious fire investigations - have concluded that the blaze was accidental and caused by "sequenced power strips powering multiple components".
Per #FDNY Fire Marshals: Cause of the 4/7 fatal 4-alarm fire at 721 5th Ave Manhattan was accidental, electrical - sequenced power strips powering multiple components. Smoke alarm not present in fire apartment https://t.co/vS8XYE5o4A
— FDNY (@FDNY) April 16, 2018
Chaining power strips together can easily result in disaster, since they can overheat if they draw more power than they are certified to handle. In particular, fire officials tend to warn that devices such as space heaters or home appliances should not be plugged into cheap extension cords or power strips lest they start a fire.
Per the US National Fire Protection Association, cords and plugs were implicated in 10 per cent of overall home structure fires from 2010-2014, but 28 per cent of the 400 civilian deaths and 20 per cent of the 1180 civilian injuries that resulted from them. So this should be a reminder that plugging one power strip into another is not advisable, particularly when the intent is to connect more devices to the same outlet than could fit into one strip alone.
Investigators also determined that Brassner's unit did not have a smoke alarm, something required by city law of owners, though CBS News reported that there were detectors installed in the tower's heating and ventilation system that first notified them of the blaze.
The unit also lacked sprinklers. As the New York Daily News reported, nearly two decades ago Trump rallied against proposed city regulations that would require sprinklers in all residential buildings after 1998 saw two deadly blazes that resulted in the deaths of three firefighters and four tenants.
Trump argued sprinklers were too expensive to install in every structure, but he eventually backed off his opposition when city officials exempted buildings already constructed - such as Trump Tower - or with construction permits on file. Trump later installed sprinklers in some buildings, such as Trump World Tower.
According to CBS, the 67-year-old Brassner was an art collector who purchased his unit in 1996 and in recent years fell into poor financial and physical health. Bankruptcy documents say Brassner was "plagued with debilitating medical problems" that limited his ability to function.
Fire at Trump Tower is out. Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2018
The president quickly - and apparently before the official determination - announced the blaze had been put out and thanked firefighters via Twitter, yet he has not tweeted about Brassner's death, CBS noted. The network added that Trump was not present during the blaze, nor were any family members:
President Donald Trump has an office and a penthouse home in the building, but he was not in New York at the time. The Secret Service checked the president's residence at some point and found that there was no fire damage.