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I-Team: Firewalls

Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013 |
I-Team: Firewalls story image
COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - As soon as the fire happened, the Newschannel 3 I-Team started digging to find out why the fire spread so fast.

Newer buildings--like those at Gull Run--have to have firewalls in them by code, and it's believed these buildings did have drywall firestops all the way through to stop it.

However, they have been an awful lot of questions today as to why there was so much damage in the buildings, even with the presence of firewalls.

Experts said that firewalls aren't a cure-all to prevent the spread of a fire--and certainly that was the case today.

The stops, however, are supposed to give people an extra 45 minutes to an hour to be able to get out of a burning building.

Most firewalls are built with 5/8 inch fire code drywall--sometimes in multiple layers between apartments.

Today, investigators said that they believe firewalls were in place in the attic and between the buildings because of the nature of the damage the way they saw it.

Even with that fire stop in place, there can be multiple ways which it can break down more quickly.

First, intense heat can contribute to a quicker breakdown. Second, pressure of the water from firefighters from aerial trucks can wear it down, and finally, holes put in the firewall by utility workers running cable in a building can break apart some of that protection.

Investigators said it could be a mixture of all three of those reasons as to why the firewalls didn't contain the flames for longer.

Thankfully, the belief was the firewall held up long enough to get everybody out.
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