Heater blamed in funicular fire 

A faulty space heater is being blamed for the inferno that killed 155 underground cable car riders at Kaprun, Austria last winter, including dual moguls world champion Sandra Schmitt.

The two-car funicular (cable car) was 600 metres into the 3.2 kilometre tunnel to the Kitzsteinhorn glacier ski area when the fire took over. It is believed that the emergency system stopped the train and caused the doors to malfunction.

A dozen skiers managed to escape by breaking a window and retreating towards the lower opening of the tunnel, but the intense smoke and heat trapped most of the passengers inside.

According to the accident report, the heater in the operator’s cabin was blocked, which in turn heated the hydraulic oil in nearby pipes. The hydraulic pipes started to leak onto the plastic-coated floor.

The fire broke out before the funicular left the station, but the cars didn’t stop until they were already in the tunnel.

The victims were a mix of nationalities, including Austrian, German, Dutch, Slovenian, British, Czech and Japanese.

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