Provo Tabernacle Blaze Sparked by 300-watt Lamp

According to a report released today by the Provo City Fire Department, the source that sparked the December 17, 2010 Provo Tabernacle blaze was an incandescent light fixture with an energized 300-watt lamp placed too close to a wooden speaker enclosure in the attic.

The task force that was set up to determine the cause, a combination of investigators from Provo City and the Utah State Fire Marshal’s Office, concluded that the fire was accidental. The 135-page document they released chronicles their investigation from the night of the fire, gives photographic illustrations, and offers the conclusion that the lamp being too close to the wooden speaker enclosure was the cause.

The task force identified four circumstances that they say “contributed to the ignition spread, and fire loss” at the Provo Tabernacle:

  1. Inadequate fire detection and notification system
  2. The lack of an automatic sprinkler system
  3. Additional fuel load brought in as part of the “Gloria” production
  4. Human error

The fire was initially reported at 2:43 a.m. on Dec. 17 by an off duty Provo Police Officer working as a private security guard. He reported two areas of fire: one on the center of an elevated stage and the other above that stage in the ceiling. The fire continued to burn, eventually collapsing the entire roof and eventually being extinguished at approximately 3 p.m. on Dec. 18.

After arriving on the scene at 3:03 a.m., investigators were able to “observe initial fire behavior and then fire progression.” This, along with photographs taken during and after the fire, eyewitness testimony and further investigation allowed the task force to come to their conclusion, according to the report.

To view the report, click here.

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