Canada

Highrise fire in Vancouver caused by magnifying effect: fire department

VANCOUVER —
A fire on the roof of a Vancouver highrise under construction appears to have been caused by sunlight being magnified by a curved wall of windows.

That’s the determination reached by Vancouver Fire Rescue Services after last Tuesday’s fire on the eighth floor the building on Quebec Street and Fourth Avenue.

In a tweet, Trevor Connelly, VFRS assistant chief of operations, revealed the fire was caused by “magnification of sunlight by a concave shaped wall of windows,” attaching a photo showing charred roof insulation and several windows on the wall blown out.

In an email to CTV News, Connelly said “these types of incidents are rare, however, it does happen.”

One example he pointed to, was the infamous case of the “Walkie-Talkie” tower in London, England.

The building has a curved shape, and had a glare so strong, it melted nearby cars and shops in September 2014. The solution to the solar glare problem was fixed by the erection of a permanent sunshade on the upper floors.

Connelly said he’s only seen such cases “roughly half a dozen times” in his career, including a vase in a sunny window that started a fire in a pillow, and one where a crystal or glass ball started two fires at the same time.

In this latest case on Quebec Street, the fire did extend from the roof into the interior of the building, but crews were able to extinguish it quickly before it spread too far. No one was hurt. 


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