10 Worst Skyscraper Fires

In this article we count down the 10 worst skyscraper fires in history, based on the death toll of each disaster.


10. Bijlmermeer Apartment Complex Fire

On the 4th October 1992, a Boeing 747F aircraft nose-dived from the sky and slammed into two high-rise apartment complexes in Amsterdam. The impact of the aircraft hitting the corner of 9 floor building containing 200 apartments partially collapsed inward. The plane crash resulted in the death of 43 people.

Year: 1992
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Deaths: 43


9. Unnamed high-rise apartment block Fire

The 2010 Shanghai fire was a fire that started on 15th November 2010 and destroyed a 28-story high-rise apartment building. At least 58 people were killed and more than 70 others injured. Resulting investigations discovered the cause of the blaze was from sparks of welding work being carried out on the building. The sparks had ignited scaffolding surrounding the skyscraper. The welders were unlicensed.

Year: 2010
Location: Shanghai, China
Deaths: 58

8. Grenfell Tower Fire

The devastating fire which ripped through the Grenfell Tower block in West London left hundreds of people homeless and at least 80 people dead. The blaze trapped families in their homes as they were unable to escape the smoke and flames. The fire started in a Hotpoint fridge freezer, but police said it was not started deliberately. The cladding on the exterior of Grenfell Tower caused the fire to spread so rapidly. The cladding, installed in a recent renovation, has come under scrutiny, with experts saying a more fire-resistant type could have been used. Both the cladding and insulation on the outside of the building failed all preliminary tests.

Year: 2017
Location: London, England
Deaths: At least 80

7. MGM Grand Hotel Fire

Just after 7am in the morning of November 21, 1980, a fire broke out in a restaurant at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (now Bally’s Las Vegas). The tragedy remains the worst disaster in Nevada history with 85 people losing their lives, and the third-worst hotel fire in modern U.S. history. At the time of the fire, approximately 5,000 people were in the hotel and casino, a 23 floor luxury resort with more than 2,000 hotel rooms.

The MGM Grand disaster resulted in the general publicising of the fact that during a building fire, smoke inhalation is a more serious threat than flames. Seventy-five people died from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Year: 1980
Location: Las Vegas, USA
Deaths: 84

6. Dupont Plaza Hotel Fire

The Dupont Plaza Hotel Fire occurred on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1986. The Dupont Plaza Hotel (now San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino) is located in in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Arson was the cause of the fire. The fire was set by three disgruntled employees of the hotel who were in the midst of a labour dispute with the owners of the hotel. The blaze claimed 98 lives and caused 140 injuries. It’s the most disastrous hotel fire in Puerto Rican history and the second deadliest in the history of the United States.

Year: 1986
Location: Condado, Puerto Rico
Deaths: 97

5. Tohid Town Residential Fire

On the 6th December 2005 an Iranian military transport aircraft was returning towards the Persian Gulf when, for reasons still unknown, it crashed into a 10 floor apartment building in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. The death toll is in dispute between news agencies but the final figure is between 116 to 128 people. All 94 aboard the plane died. Along with those on the plane, 34 on the ground were killed with 90 more injured.

Year: 2005
Location: Tehran, Iran
Deaths: 116 – 128

4. Winecoff Hotel Fire

The Winecoff Hotel fire of December 7, 1946 was the deadliest hotel fire in the history of the United States Of America. The inferno killed 119 hotel occupants, including the hotel’s owners. The hotel was advertised as “absolutely fireproof.” The fire was also notable for the number of victims who jumped to their deaths. The fire, which followed other disastrous fires in the US, sparked significant changes in North American building codes, most significantly requiring multiple protected means of egress and self-closing fire-resistive doors for hotel guest rooms.

The fire’s point of origin was on the third floor in which a mattress and chair had been temporarily placed in the corridor. One theory implies that a dropped cigarette could have ignited the mattress or other combustibles in the corridor.

Year: 1946
Location: Atlanta, USA
Deaths: 119

3. Asch Building Fire

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan, New York City on March 25, 1911 was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city, and one of the deadliest in U.S. history.

The fire started on the top three floors of the 10 floor Asch Building, now known as the Brown Building. The fire killed 146 garment workers. The fire led to wide-ranging legislation requiring improved factory safety standards. The building survived the fire and was refurbished.

The Fire Marshal concluded that the likely cause was the disposal of an unextinguished match or cigarette butt in the scrap bin.

Year: 1911
Location: New York City, USA
Deaths: 146

2. Joelma Building Fire

The Joelma fire occurred on Friday February 1, 1974, inside the Joelma Building, a 25-story building situated in downtown São Paulo.

A short-circuit in a faulty air-conditioner on the 11th floor ignited the fire and the large amount of combustible materials, including paper, plastics, electrical equipment and wooden walls and furniture, contributed to the fire spreading rapidly.

The death toll estimates range from 179 to 189.

Year: 1974
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Deaths: 179–189

1. 1 and 2 World Trade Center Fire

On September 11, 2001, the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were hit by jet airliners hijacked by terrorists. Both towers collapsed from the damage and fires caused by the air planes. In all, 2,752 people died, including all 157 passengers and hijackers and crew aboard the two air planes.

Year: 2001
Location: New York City, USA
Deaths: 2312

If you’re the owner, landlord or occupier of business or any other non-domestic premises, you will be responsible for fire safety. Fire safety is the set of practices intended to reduce the destruction caused by fire. Fire safety measures include those that are intended to prevent ignition of an uncontrolled fire, and those that are used to limit the development and effects of a fire after it starts. Book your fire risk assessment today.