Five – Alarm Warehouse Pallet Fire

Risk Logic Inc. (RLI) is a consulting engineering company that provides Loss Prevention Services. Since 1997, we have been working in regions all over the world utilizing the most advanced and current standards.

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October 12th, 2022

A five-alarm blaze erupted Monday, September 12, in an outside storage area next to a distribution warehouse in Riverside County, California. Dispatchers called for emergency equipment and eventually over 100 firefighters. Within minutes the emergency responders found heavy smoke and flames. The ten-acre storage area included pallets and cardboard boxes stacked 15 to 20 feet high.

Initially, the Riverside Fire Department declared the fire was a two-alarm emergency, but when the flames extended to a wall on the south side of the commercial structure, it was elevated to a five-alarm emergency. A five-alarm fire is based on the number of units, (firetrucks, tankers, rescue vehicles and command vehicles) and firefighters responding to a fire. One firefighter was taken to nearby Riverside University Medical Center for treatment of injuries caused by the heat and smoke.

Because of heavy black smoke, nearby roads were closed. The California Highway Patrol considered lane closures for public safety on both the south- and northbound sides of I-215. Firefighters fully extinguished the fire on Tuesday, September 13 at midnight. Fire resources remained on scene throughout the day for mop up and overhaul. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Facilities and yards that use substantial amounts of pallets should always be aware of their fire risk. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says when stacked wood pallets become dry, a fire is easily started and can quickly spread often causing a devastating loss. Pallet storage protection guidelines can be found in:

  • NFPA 1
  • NFPA 13
  • FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 8-24.   

Risk Logic Inc. recommends maintaining outdoor idle pallet and yard storage a safe distance away from buildings and important structures. The required separation distances depend on the type and number of pallets and type of wall construction provided. Other considerations include the provision of exterior automatic and manual fire protection. Solutions may include the relocation of the pallets/yard storage or making modifications to the exposed building wall(s).

Routine inspections of fire hazards and fire protection systems can minimize threats to businesses. Risk Logic engineers are equipped to perform inspections and supply property loss prevention recommendations to keep your business and building safe.  Contact Risk Logic for a full inspection.