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Enschede fire

The Enschede fireworks disaster (known in the Netherlands as the Vuurwerkramp meaning "fireworks disaster") was a catastrophic fireworks explosion occurring at the SE Fireworks depot on 13 May 2000, in the eastern Dutch city of Enschede.

The fire led to an enormous explosion which killed 23 people including four firefighters, and injured 947. 400 homes were destroyed and 1500 buildings damaged. The biggest blast was felt up to 30 kilometers (19 mi) from the scene.

SE Fireworks was a major importer of fireworks from China and supplier to pop concerts and major festive events in the Netherlands. Prior to the disaster it had a good safety record and met all safety audits.

It appeared that the fire began in the work area of the central building where some 900 kg of fireworks were stored. This fire then extended to two full containers that had been stored illegally outside of the building. The fireworks bunker ignition caused the explosion of 177 tons of fireworks, virtually destroying the area.

One theory for the scale of the disaster was that workers had accidentally left open internal fire doors which might have contained the fire and subsequent blast. Theoretically such an explosion was highly unlikely because the fireworks were stored in bunkers specifically designed to minimize the risk.

The week prior to the explosion, SE had been audited and met all official safety regulations, and the fireworks had been legally imported and inspected as safe by Dutch authorities.

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