Trump Tower Fire That Killed Tenant Resulted From Power Strips Plugged Into Each Other, FDNY Says

Firefighters on scene after a blaze destroyed a unit in Trump Tower on April 7th, 2018.
Firefighters on scene after a blaze destroyed a unit in Trump Tower on April 7th, 2018.
Photo: AP

The fire that raged through President Donald Trump’s famous New York skyscraper and headquarters, Trump Tower, and killed residential tenant Todd Brassner on April 7th appears to have been the result of too many power strips, the New York Fire Department said on Monday.

According to the FDNY, fire marshals—the agency’s police force handling serious fire investigations—have concluded that the blaze was accidental and caused by “sequenced power strips powering multiple components.”


Chaining power strips together can easily result in disaster, since they can overheat if they draw more power than they are certified to handle. In particular, fire officials tend to warn that devices like space heaters or home appliances should not be plugged into cheap extension cords or power strips lest they start a fire.

Per the National Fire Protection Association, cords and plugs were implicated in 10 percent of overall home structure fires from 2010-2014, but 28 percent of the 400 civilian deaths and 20 percent of the 1,180 civilian injuries that resulted from them. So this should be a reminder that plugging one power strip into another is not really very advisable, particularly when the intent is to connect more devices to the same outlet than could fit into one strip alone.

Investigators also determined that Brassner’s unit did not have a smoke alarm, something required by city law of owners, though CBS News reported that there were detectors installed in the tower’s heating and ventilation system that first notified them of the blaze.

The unit also lacked sprinklers. As the New York Daily News reported, nearly two decades ago Trump rallied against proposed city regulations that would require sprinklers in all residential buildings after 1998 saw two deadly blazes that resulted in the deaths of three firefighters and four tenants. Trump argued sprinklers were too expensive to install in every structure, but he eventually backed off his opposition when city officials exempted buildings already constructed—like Trump Tower—or with constructionpermits on file. Trump later installed sprinklers in some buildings, such as Trump World Tower.


According to CBS, the 67-year-old Brassner was an art collector who purchased his unit in 1996 and in recent years fell into poor financial and physical health. Bankruptcy documents say Brassner was “plagued with debilitating medical problems” that limited his ability to function.


The president quickly—and apparently before the official determination—announced the blaze had been put out and thanked firefighters via Twitter, yet he has not tweeted about Brassner’s death, CBS noted. The network added that Trump was not present during the blaze, nor were any family members:

President Donald Trump has an office and a penthouse home in the building, but he was not in New York at the time. The Secret Service checked the president’s residence at some point and found that there was no fire damage.



"... An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups online." - Washington Post

Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`



Helpful hint. Touch the insulation on the plugs when high-draw equipment is operating and touch any extension cords. They can be warm, but should not be hot. If they are hot, have an electrician replace the socket or get a heavier duty extension cord, depending on what is heated. This is especially true if there’s a chance a blanket or towels or pillow might cover the extension cord or multiple outlet box. This can trap the energy from resistance heating and cause a fire.

Finally, be wary of outlet boxes that have surge suppressing MOVs (metal oxide varistors) which tend to fail as a dead short and can cause an electrical arc fire. MOVs wear gradually over time and are tough to check to see if they are functioning, unlike plain fuses and arc-tubes.