Dupont Plaza Hotel arson

Dupont Plaza Hotel arson
Dupont Plaza Fire USCG.jpg
Dupont Plaza Rescue by Phyllis Gottschalk
DateDecember 31, 1986 (1986-12-31)
Time3:30 p.m.[1]
VenueHotel Dupont Plaza
LocationSan Juan, Puerto Rico
Coordinates18°27′22″N 66°4′13″W / 18°27′22″N 66°4′13″W / 18.45611; -66.07028
TypeFire
CauseArson
Deaths98
Non-fatal injuries140
ConvictedHéctor Escudero, Armando Jiménez, and José Rivera
SentenceJiménez: 75 years in prison
Escudero, Rivera: 99 years in prison

The Dupont Plaza Hotel arson was a fire that occurred at the Hotel Dupont Plaza (now San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1986.

The fire was set by three disgruntled employees of the hotel who were involved in a labor dispute with the owners. It claimed between 96 and 98 lives and caused 140 injuries. It is the most catastrophic hotel fire in Puerto Rican history and the second deadliest in the history of the United States.[2]

Hotel history

The Dupont Plaza opened in 1963 as the Puerto Rico-Sheraton and was operated by the Sheraton hotel company until 1980, just before Sheraton imposed significant fire-safety measures in its hotels throughout the world.[3] Before national fire safety requirements were enacted in 1990, most hotels had implemented fire safety measures based on local regulations and ordinances, which in some localities were lax, despite frequent fires and fire-related deaths at hotels.[3] In June 1985, the Dupont Plaza was inspected by the local fire department and was found to have deficiencies in its safety systems, including malfunctioning equipment and lack of evacuation and emergency plans.[4] The fire sprinkler system, which was not criticized in the fire department's report,[4] was not automated, as it was in 95% of hotels across the U.S. at that time.[5] In 1985, there were 7,500 reported fires in hotels and motels across the U.S., with 85 deaths and $56 million in damages (equivalent to $111 million in 2018).[3]