The facility was allowed to open without fire protection systems and the fire that started on the lower levels and the heaviest fire was on the second floor, smoke, heat and combustion products were spread throughout the ventilation systems. Most of the 85 dead died of smoke inhalation along with the other 650 who were treated.
This fire is a perfect example of why we need codes and how the lack of codes and inspections can make our jobs as firefighters that much for difficult and dangerous. This fire happen in 1980 and although most occupancies of this type are required to be sprinklered, depending on the local jurisdiction, it could happen again.
Fire sprinklers and other fire/smoke protection systems save lives and we must push to ensure codes and are followed and adhered to. Stay safe and be careful.