Many people may think that those who are claustrophobic are unfortunate because they would avoid being in a closed place. Some amusement rides, elevators, airplanes and even a cable-car for skiers would be considered a no-no and would be limited to what he/she can do. However, this condition may have saved lives in Austria if skiers on a particular day had avoided using a cable-car as a means of transportation. On November 11th, 2000 was a horrific day for skiers whom, while using a cable-car in Austria to get to a glacier, suddenly catch on fire while passing through a mountain tunnel killing 156 passengers. The fire was the culprit of an unlawful space heater and only 11 people survived the fire.
The Austrian Alps is home to a popular snowboarding and skiing location known as Kitzsteinhorn Mountain and can be found just south of Salzburg. Unfortunately to some, it is necessary to use a cable car from the town known as Kaprun into the mountains and pass through the 2.5-mile tunnel in order to get to the prime locations for skiing on the mountain. The car is 90-feet-long and pulled using a cable along train-like tracks.
The cable-car left for its’ trek up the mountain on November 11th, at 9 a.m. and within two minutes people reported seeing flames shooting out of the car. The cable-car automatically halted its’ motion as part of the safety system within just as it went in the concrete shaft tunnel and the disruption indicator was activated. Immediately, deadly smoke began to fill the tunnel but the doors would not open. Fortunately, 11 passengers were able to exit through the rear and down a stairway leading to the entrance several hundred yards away thanks to a man who shattered the cable-car’s Plexiglas rear window.
Tragically, the remaining people were less fortunate. Even though some of the passengers successfully exited the car through the front and made an effort to reach the top of the tunnel, smoke and flames shot straight up at them due to the tunnel now was acting like a chimney. Also, the corresponding car’s driver coming down the tunnel received burns around the top’s exit. Three different individuals also burned to death that was close to the top of the tunnel.
One thing that prevented any assistance from outside was that throughout the entire day, the fire was still burning and workers had to wait until evening before they could reach the train. One can only imagine the horror that came across their faces as the workers, once inside, they saw the remains of the passengers which were charred and burned beyond recognition. Later, a worker said for the sake of the families, a description of what was seen would not be given. The investigation into the cause of the fire shockingly revealed in the driver’s cabin a space heater was responsible for the hydraulic oil in a pipe to leak, due to being overheated, on to a plastic seat where it caught on fire.