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APRIL 7-12 2024


Obarrio Street, Panama City, Panama Building Explosion Case Study

Friday, April 12, 2024 (8:00am - 12:00pm) (Celebrity 1-3)

Panama City is the capital of the Republic of Panama, located in Central America. it has the tallest buildings (skyscrapers) in Central America and the Caribbean, with a total count of 75 buildings higher than 100 meters (330 feet). These buildings share occupancy between offices and residential. Due to the stability of its soil and earthquakes improbability, Panama City is chosen by investors as an ideal city for the construction of tall buildings. Due to this accelerated growth in the construction of tall residential buildings, there has been an increase in explosions with residential occupancy. By law, buildings from four stories and up are supplied by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for household appliances, such as stoves, water heaters, and clothes dryers. Between 2018 and 2023, there have been eight explosions (deflagrations) in residential apartment buildings, where there have been reported forty-four injured persons and four deceases, because of these fateful events. Many of these wounded have been affected by burns all over their bodies, causing them life-long injuries. For this presentation we would like to have the opportunity to speak of one of the most relevant explosion cases of the last five years in Panama. The case is the explosion in Urbana building, located in Panama City. This residential apartment building consists of 35 stories, representing nearly 100 meters (330 feet) of height. On Tuesday, November 1, 2022, in the early hours of the morning, a large-scale explosion rocked the center of the city. This explosion generated great chaos among the Panamanian citizens because the magnitude of the explosion generated a shock wave that affected nine surrounding buildings. This phenomenon had not occurred in previous explosions because the other explosions had occurred in places where the shock wave was released into empty space. In the case of Urbana building explosion, the building is in an area with a high density of buildings and the shock wave resulting from the explosion caused damage to many of them. This generated great chaos, causing the evacuation of approximately twelve buildings, in an estimated four blocks of residential and commercial buildings area. One of the phenomena that caused great astonishment in the Panamanian press was the reflection phenomenon that was generated by the explosion. This phenomenon is where the pressure wave bounces off the buildings that were in front of Urbana building, producing a reflection wave that causes the glass of the windows and balcony doors to crack and break to the inside of Urbana building. Conclusions: In the elaborated models, the sequence of the explosion was recreated, based on the hypothesis that the cause of the explosion was the product of a leak in the stove in one apartment.


Mario Ramirez

Mario Ramírez III is a professional chemist, Master in Fire Protection Engineering , and certified fire expert by the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI.), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX)and registered by Fire Service Professional Qualifications System (Pro Board®). Who started his professional career as Quality Installation Control Supervisor in a Liquied Petrolium Gas industry, then entered to the Panama Fire Department, when he served as a fire inspector, fire investigator, chemist for the Haz-Mat emergencies, and an instructor for the Fire Academy. Afterwards, Mario served as an Emergency Response Specialist to Panama Canal Authority, attending multiple emergencies such as fires, spills of dangerous chemical substances, toxic gas leaks, vessel emergencies, contingency and preparedness planning.

Mario is the current Chief Executive Officer of Fire&Chem Panama Consultants, a company that provides consulting services for fire prevention, fire investigation, Haz-Mat Investigation, and Explosions. Advising regarding fire protection regulations.

Mario is a subject matter expert who has worked in countries such as Panama and Mexico. He has led investigations on fires and explosions in commercial, maritime, vehicles, residential areas, advising construction companies, clarifying interpretations of the standards, and acting as an expert on fire prevention issues. He has also been a lecturer in the international conference as in topics as fire dynamic, LPG explosion and chemical weapons.


Olga Perea

Olga Is a Subject Matter Expert in the areas of Architecture and Civil Engineering, and with more than 10 years of experience. She is a certified fire inspector by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and a future to be a Fire Investigation Technician (FIT) by the International Association of Fire Investigators (IAAI).

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