Jim Arnold, Clark County (Nevada) Dept. of Development Services
View the full story , including all images and figures, in our monthly digital edition A typical building fire begins slowly, as combustible materials are gradually warmed by a heat source to their ignition temperature. The level of fire protection installed within a building and the response of the local fire department will determine whether a fire is controlled or grows into an inferno. This article will describe the extremely different outcomes of two similar fires in two similar high-rise buildings and will explain why one event became a catastrophe while the other garnered merely a brief mention on the nightly news. Recipe for disaster The first fire is the disastrous Feb. 1, 1974, high-rise fire at the 25-story Joelma Building in Sao Paulo, Brazil.