Revealing mistake: Watch carefully as the statue falls on the bartender. It barely touches his chest and rests on his left thigh. As the bartender slumps dead you can see a wide open gap between his whole upper body and the statue. Even if it crushed his thigh it would not have killed him so quickly. When the bartender slumps down the statue rocks freely as he brushes against it; obviously a styrofoam replica.
Continuity mistake: In the establishing shot of the San Francisco skyline, the building appears to be located off Market Street and facing the viewer (elevator tracks facing the front of the building). In a night-time shot from the Bay Bridge, the building has "turned around" and faces the other way.
Revealing mistake: On the roof during the helicopter rescue scene, there is a panic and some women run to the helicopter trying to land in strong winds. As it explodes, a woman in a slinky dress falls down. Paul Newman helps her up and her dress is whisked up to reveal "stuntwoman" kneepads on her legs.
Other mistake: During the scenic elevator rescue scene, a helicopter lowers the Fire Chief down to connect a cable to the top of the elevator. The cable is seen to be hanging no more than three feet from the side of the building. If this were the case, the helicopter's rotors would be hitting the building.
Plot hole: There are numerous problems with the final solution to putting out multiple burning floors of a skyscraper by blowing the water tanks under the roof. Blowing the floor under the tanks only channels the water into the Promanade Room. From there it cascades out the windows and - as we see in the film - falls to the ground without touching the fires on the lower floors. A tiny percentage makes it into the stairwell door and elevator shaft, despite the fact that the elevator doors were closed. All of the stairwell and elevator doors in the building were shut; none of this water makes it to the fire. Also, as we see the flames going out from all the floors no water is coming out of any of those windows, proving that the fires are going out without any water.
Plot hole: The roof of the building is fully engulfed in flames (from the helicopter explosion) right up to the point where they blow the water tanks. When they explode the water tanks the whole building is put out. It would have been impossible for the water tanks to put out the roof fire; it was above the tanks. Although all of the building shots at the end of the film are looking up at the structure you can see flames shooting off the roof before the tank explosions, then no roof flames whatsoever after.
Factual error: The device used near the end of the movie for ferrying people to another building is repeatedly referred to as a "breeches buoy." It is actually a bosun's chair. A breeches buoy was an earlier, more primitive device that was basically an oversized life preserver with a pair of large canvas trousers (breeches) sewn to it.
Character mistake: Just before the fire starts on the 81st floor, a man is shown telling an elderly couple that business offices only go as high as 80, and that 81-120 is exclusively residential. Not long after O'Hallorhan arrives, he asks Jernigan for a list of business tenants from 81-85, which Jernigan replies "most are yet to move in and those that have are not working at night". As said by the man earlier, these floors do not house business tenants, only residential.
Continuity mistake: In the early part of the TV version. They are holding a meeting in Mr.Bigelows' office regarding Romane Conti. He asked a gentleman from Phoenix on the phone if he could get the wine. Then told his assistant "go get it". A flight plan would have to be filed,and the flying time from SFO to PHX is about 2 hours. Then to find the place where he has to get the Romane Conti. I lived in the Phoenix area for almost 13 years and it is spread out. Then get back to the airport,another 2 hour flight. I would say the fire department would have gotten there first.
Continuity mistake: Roberts rings Duncan and tells him Will Giddings has suffered burns and there is a fire in the building. We hear the whole conversation and Duncan ends it by saying, "A fire in a storage room on 81 can't hurt us up here," but Roberts never mentioned where the fire is.
Continuity mistake: When Doug first arrives at the Tower, he goes down an elevator from the roof to the 65th floor, then has to cross over to different elevators. In one of these, he goes up - to 79 according to the display; but the floor buttons on the control, consist of just 16 buttons; the 7th or 8th button is lit as he gets off, so he has only gone up halfway to 79.
Plot hole: By the time O'Halloran phones Roberts, who is in the promenade room, and tells him of their plan to blow the water tanks, over 50 of the floors below the promenade room, along with the roof which is also ablaze, have been destroyed by the fire. So surely the phone lines would have been destroyed as well, making a phone call to the promenade room impossible.
Continuity mistake: When the first woman goes across on the breeches buoy, the overhead shot of her going across does not show the outside elevator which at this stage is hanging by a cable and stuck on the outside. However, it is visible in the shots from the peerless building which the breeches buoy is attached to.