Cause of Zero Pak Fire Classified as "Undetermined"

FREDERICK COUNTY, Va. - Fire officials with the City of Winchester have classified the cause of the Zero Pak warehouse fire an "undetermined". 

On May 30, 2014 fire and rescue crews battled a large fire at the former cold storage warehouse building, Zero Pak, at 560 N. Cameron Street.

Approximately two weeks after the fire happened, investigators said they received an anonymous report indicting that the fire may have been intentionally set. After conducting additional interviews, the report could not be definitively ruled out as a potential cause, officials said. 

Without being able to rule out all of the potential causes, the cause of the fire was classified as undetermined. 

As we've reported, crew members had been working in and around the building to remove piping and old equipment for recycling. Crews were working for about three months in various buildings on the property doing demolition and torch cutting operations. 

Officials said the fire was confined to the cork and foam insulation that lined the walls of the warehouse. The fire was a deep-seated smoldering fire that was discovered by workers after finishing their lunch break. The workers attempted to extinguish the fire with fire extinguishers, but were unsuccessful. 

Crews said they were hampered by dark conditions and limited access to the upper floors due to narrow stairways and the lack of windows and other natural openings that help to remove smoke. Fire officials said the fire ultimately spread within the cork insulation to the fifth floor, requiring an extensive and continuous flow of water to cool and extinguish the smoldering material. 

As we've reported, on June 1 the fire was completely extinguished after firefighters conducted a 24-hour fire watch.

After completing the scene examination, investigators could not rule out the "hot work" operations being conducted in the room of origin as a potential ignition source. Investigators did confirm that strict safety procedures were adhered to, with the exception of conducting a fire watch for a prescribed amount of time after work had stooped. 

Workers on-site also reported numerous times of having to run people out of the building due to the structure having multiple unsecured openings for entry. 

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