Volendam New Year's fire

The Volendam New Year's fire was a café fire in the Dutch town of Volendam during the 2000–2001 New Year's night. The fire began early on New Year's Day 2001 and caused the death of 14 young people.[1] There were in all 241 people admitted to hospital,[2] 200 of whom suffered serious burns.[1]

Volendam New Year's fire
Volendam New Years Fire.jpg
Rescue operations after the fire
Date1 January 2001 (2001-01-01)
LocationVolendam, Netherlands
Coordinates52°29′58″N 5°4′3″E / 52.49944°N 5.06750°E / 52.49944; 5.06750Coordinates: 52°29′58″N 5°4′3″E / 52.49944°N 5.06750°E / 52.49944; 5.06750
Non-fatal injuries241
Monument for the victims of the New Year's fire on the Volendam dike, adjacent to the place where the fire happened
Monument for the victims of the New Year's fire at the graveyard of the Sint-Vincentius church in Volendam


The fire took place in a building that housed three bars. On New Year's Eve the cafés were packed with more than 350 young people between 13 and 22 years of age[2] when a short blaze happened in the café De Hemel ("Heaven") which was located on the top floor[3] after a sparkler hit Christmas decorations that hung from the ceiling.[4] The temperature in the room reached 400 °C (752 °F).[2]

There was great panic and the heat, lack of oxygen and people falling over each other made escaping extremely difficult. There also were bars in front of the windows and there were too few emergency exits, all of which contributed to the high number of injuries.[3] Survivors stated that shortly after the fire began all the lights went out contributing to the panic.[5]

The first report reached the Amsterdam ambulance service CPA at 00:38 local time on 1 January. The first fire engine arrived at 00:46 CET.[3] The Dutch Red Cross reported that the alarm was raised shortly after 00:30 local time and that it took 15 minutes for the first ambulances and medical teams to arrive. Mayor Frank IJsselmuiden claimed that the crowd had panicked because all but one of the emergency exits were blocked.[5]


Initially only eight were reported dead after the fire and the majority of them were from Volendam and aged between 15 and 22.[5] By January 18, four additional people had died in local hospitals raising the official death toll to 12.[6]

Many of those injured were hurt when they smashed windows and leapt from third and second floor windows in an attempt to escape the fire. Others including 53 injured individuals were admitted due to burns[7] with some being flown to special burn units in Belgium and Germany.[5]


The fire was investigated intensively by media and politicians. New rules were introduced for decorations in cafés, nightclubs and other venues.[8] The owner and managers of the building were indicted for culpability.[9] An inquiry showed the owner Jan Veerman had been negligent in providing escape routes as well as failing to inundate the Christmas decorations with a fire-resistant substance, and that there were too many people in the building at the time of the incident. The owner was convicted to a conditional prison sentence and community service.[10] As a result of the inquiry Mayor of Edam-Volendam Frank IJsselmuiden and alderman Wim Visscher resigned their positions.[11]


A memorial ceremony for the victims took place in January 2001, with then Prime Minister Wim Kok and then Crown Prince now King Willem-Alexander joining about 15,000 other mourners that marched through the town streets.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Reconstruction of the fire in "De Hemel" in Volendam, New Years Eve 2000/2001 Archived 22 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, S. M. Öhlin Lostetter and P.B. Reijman, TNO Centre for Fire Research, The Netherlands & P.H.E. van de Leur, DGMR Consulting Engineers, The Netherlands
  2. ^ a b c The Volendam Fire: Lessons Learned from Disaster Research, Sabine M. van Harten MD, Joost J.L.M. Bierens MD et al., Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, September–October 2006 p.304
  3. ^ a b c (in Dutch) 1 januari 2001: Cafébrand Volendam, Zwaailichten disaster website
  4. ^ Blaze victims tell of fight for life, BBC News, 2 January 2001
  5. ^ a b c d Black, Ian (2 January 2001). "Escape blocked in Dutch cafe fire". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b "CNN.com - Dutch fire claims 12th victim - January 18, 2001". www.cnn.com. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  7. ^ "Dutch Revelers Die in New Year's Blaze". ABC News. Retrieved 20 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ (in Dutch) NVBR: Politiek wakker geschud na brand Volendam, Reformatorisch Dagblad, 22 November 2010
  9. ^ Verdict in Volendam Fire Disaster on 18 July, Dutch News Digest 7 March 2003
  10. ^ (in Dutch) Werkstraf voor Jan Veerman, De Volkskrant, 18 July 2003
  11. ^ (in Dutch) Volendam in teken herdenking cafébrand, Het Parool, 1 January 2011