Wind, Not Fire Blamed tor Richmond Hangar Loss

Wind, Not Fire Blamed tor Richmond Hangar Loss

Neither the design nor the material were at fault when hurricane and fire destroyed three huge wooden blimp hangars at the Navy’s Richmond, Fla., Air Station, Sept. 20, 1945,* it is disclosed by the statement of the Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks, following the findings of a Naval Court.

The three hangars, among the world’s largest timber structures (measuring 1,058 ft. long, by 171 ft. height with inside span of 237 ft.) each contained 3,000,000 b. ft. of timber, failed under wind velocities estimated by Naval investigators at more than 160 MPH, and in collapsing to the concrete floor, started fires which destroyed airplanes and blimps stored there to escape the hurricane.

The fire, which broke out following the structural collapse, probably started from electrical short circuits of the station power system, from stored aircraft battery assemblies or from sparks caused by the falling metal striking the concrete. Any of these, according to the statement, would have ignited the gasoline that escaped from the ruptured tanks of the stored aircraft. Resultant temperatures perhaps as high as 2,000 F., were attested by fused glass, melted copper and reduction of metal parts.

The effect of the chemical treatment of the timber in retarding the fire made it seem plausible htat, without collapse of the structures, there would have been no fire.

Failure of the hangars, the report concludes, could not be laid to the structural performance of the “fireproofed” or other material. Wind forces at the time of collapse were about two and one-half times those for which the structures were designed.

‘See story in FIRE ENGINEERING, Oct., 1945.

No posts to display