A FIRE IN A SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, residential hotel Monday morning caused everybody to flee as thick smoke filled all the hallways of the 3-story building. With fire expanding in the second story, several residents were forced to jump from the windows of their rooms.
Three jumpers were injured and three more occupants needed transportation for smoke inhalation.
The fire was reported at 2:45 am Pacific and San Diego firefighters arrived to find the building fully charged with smoke and the fire rapidly growing on the 2nd floor. They also encountered what fire officials described as "a small panic" as the residents were desparately trying to evacuate. They were able to knock it down quickly, however, in a little over 30 minutes.
After interviewing the resident of the unit where the fire started, the investigators are certain that it was accidental. They have not yet determined the cause, but have it narrowed down to two possibilities. At least 14 people have been displaced by the fire which caused extensive damage on the 2nd floor and heavy water damage on the ground floor.
KFMB-TV Ch. 8 also interviews other residents in this video:
A MAJOR FIRE IN A FLINT, MICHIGAN, residence hotel Saturday night was especially vexing for the Flint Fire Department. According to Battalion Chief John Babb, when the units arrived the fire already had a big start but many residents were still in the apartments. Additionally, the weather had banked the heavy smoke down to street level and the FF's were unable to see each other's trucks or assess the fire conditions.
Of the four hydrants serving the hotel, three of them were inoperable (probably because of being frozen, Chief Babb said). The working hydrant was dedicated to the aerial truck's master stream and a special call was put out to about seven other departments to set up a tanker relay from the next nearest hydrana a half-mile away.
By then the fire was into the common attic and was running the full building containing 24 units.
The fire was reported at 10:30 Saturday night and kept all hands working until about 5 am Sunday morning.
WJRT-TV provided this video report from the scene:
FOR NEARLY 110 YEARS THE HOTEL SEABERT, later known as El Portal Hotel in Raton, New Mexico, served celebrities and notables. Currently it was but a shell of its former glory as a 400-room quality hotel with nearly half of its structure still standing after previous fires and shrinkage of trade. At one point it had occupied an entire city block.
KRTN / Marty Mayfield
Friday night the El Portal finished its life as the entire remainder of the building was destroyed in a large fire that brought down the walls. Fortunately the 25 overnight guests and long-term residents escaped injury. KRTN Radio reported:
Raton lost a historic building and familiar face last night as the historic El Portal Hotel caught fire and was totally destroyed. Firefighters from Raton, Angel Fire, Cimarron, Maxwell and Philmont poured hundreds of thousands of gallons of water on the blaze in an attempt to keep it contained to the El Portal block and from spreading to adjacent structures. The call came in just after 7:00 pm on Friday night. By the time the first responders arrived on the scene the building was fully engulfed. There were no injuries or fatalities reported.
KRTN / Mayfield
A citizen provided this video of the fire that captures the spectacular 2-wall collapse. Credit goes to the fire officers who had already anticipated it and had apparently set up a collapse zone:
THE CITIZENS OF BELLEFONTE, PENNSYLVANIA, ARE HEARTSICK today (Monday) following the loss of another of their downtown landmarks. The DoDe Hotel (formerly the Garman Hotel) was destroyed in a large fire that began just before midnight Saturday into Sunday and burned through the night as the firefighters struggled successfully to contain the downtown fire.
Centre Daily Times
The aging building did not have sprinklers, but there was a fire alarm system that notified the residents and all made it out to safety without injury.
It is not yet known what started Sunday's fire, but some residents are taking notice now that the several major buildings downtown that have burned over the past eight years have gone up in alphabetical order.
Selecting from the State College Centre Daily: In July 2004, it was the 200-year-old Bellefonte Academy, a former school converted into apartments.
Then in February 2006, fire consumed the 138-year-old BushHouse, a hotel that once hosted luminaries from Amelia Earhart to Thomas Edison.
Next in December 2009, it was the Cadillac Building on the corner of Bishop and Allegheny streets that burned.
And now comes the demise of the DoDe Hotel.
Centre Daily Times
Bellefonte is the Centre County seat and the borough officials say that they have been doing everything possible over the years to try and eliminate these large fires that are claiming their historical downtown buildings. (They are not buying into the "alphabetical curse" yet, though.)
Update, 4 pm Eastern: Eight guests are currently unaccounted for and fire continues to burn. Scroll down for update.
Update 2, Tuesday: All "missing" guests found.
A 120-ROOM QUALITY HOTEL in Cornwall, England, has been burning since noon local time (7 am Eastern) today.
The fire broke out in the Falmouth Beach Hoteljust as the lunch service was beginning. The building was rapidly involved with the fire filling the roof area and spreading through the entire structure. The roof collapsed less than two hours after the fire began. It is expected to be a total loss as it continues to burn out of control. Cornwall Fire and Rescue has ten engines and one aerial at the scene.
All the guests and employees at the hotel were safely evacuated and the nearby St. Michael's Hotel was also evacuated as a precaution.
The modern hotel was opened in 1984 and is operated by Best Western.
BBC News has an early REPORT HERE, but so far there is little to report as this incident is still in progress.
Falmouth Beach Hotel WEBSITE.
Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service WEBSITE.
Firegeezer will attempt to update this story when more information is available.
The following brief video clip catches a partial collapse:
UPDATE, 4 PM Eastern:
The Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service is saying that eight guests remain unaccounted for. It is not known if they are victims or were already away from the hotel when the fire started and have not reported back.
Eight guests are unaccounted for as a fire at the Falmouth Beach Hotel continues to burn. Cornwall Fire and Rescue have released this statement:
Guests have been evacuated from the Falmouth Beach Hotel and neighbouring St Michael’s Hotel, although around 8 guests remain unaccounted for.
There is nothing at this stage to suggest these guests have come to any harm, and it is likely they have gone out on day trips, but police would like these individuals to make themselves known to officers at the scene or to call police on 101 to confirm they are safe and well.
– Cornwall Fire and Rescue
Cornwall Community News
The Cornwall Community News has additional information relating to the unfriendly weather conditions:
Storm-force gusts of up to fifty miles an hour made the 999 effort perilous and neighbouring St Michaels Hotel was emptied of guests.
Much of the facade of the Falmouth Beach fell to the ground at around 1:45pm and walls on either side followed suit shortly. By around 2:15 the fire looked to have completely gutted about half the well-known building on its south side. Along its gutted half the entire roof has fallen in.
There are no reports from 999 so far of any injuries. Supt John Green’s team worked to locate around a dozen day-trippers earlier unaccounted for. The senior officer said 999 never thought they were trapped as such but still wanted to make sure they were all okay.
Read the entire report for more details about the operations and additonal photos HERE.
Update #2, Tuesday morning:
All "missing" guests have been located and are safe.
A combined police and fire investigation team has begun work on identifying the cause but they say there is no reason now to consider the fire as suspicious.
BBC News is reporting today:
A Best Western spokesperson said fire crews managed to save the hotel's leisure club and 16 of its rooms, but the rest of the property had been destroyed. The company added that assessors were on scene and that it was contacting all guests to find alternative accommodation for them.
Staff from the hotel are meeting with the owners to discuss the future.
The mayor of Falmouth, Geoffrey Evans, said the fire was a disaster for the town and "couldn't have happened at a worse time". Next month Falmouth is due to host the Finn Cup sailing competition and is one of the towns to welcome the Olympic Torch on the first day of its relay throughout the UK.
A MID-DAY FIRE IN LICKING COUNTY, OHIO, Friday caused heavy damage to a Holiday Inn Express. The fire in the 4-story building was discovered at 11:30 am, but could have been burning for a while before the smoke became visible.
When the Heath Fire Department arrived they found heavy smoke showing on the second floor. A second- and third-alarm were struck for the blaze that had been spreading in the ceiling between the first and second floors. There were few guests in the hotel at the time and all people who were there were evacuated safely.
Heath Fire Chief Mark Huggins stated that he believes the fire started in the ceiling above the indoor pool and it spread rapidly through there. With the weakened fooring and the heavy amount of water applied to the area, there was a partial collapse of the second floor, but nobody was injured. Six of the guest rooms were completely destroyed.
The firefighters had the fire out in about an hour. Chief Huggins gave a brief report for the media including the Newark Advocate:
The Newark Advocate has the story and a photo gallery HERE.
Fire Well Advanced on Arrival
Units Still on the Scene Thursday Morning
SEVENTEEN FIRE DEPARTMENTS RESPONDED to a major fire in the Pineview Inn motel in Coldbrook, Nova Scotia, Wednesday night.
Chronicle-Herald / Taylor
The alarm was dispatched at 9:30 pm local time for an "alarm sounding." The first-in units found smoke showing and when they entered the 3-story structure they found heavy fire sweeping through the hallways and extending upward through the walls. Within a short time the fire breached the roof.
Four aerial ladders were used for master streams and at least a dozen tankers were brought in for water shuttle to supply the large gpm's required. The Chronicle-Herald colorfully informs us:
A large excavator was brought in to tear out the walls so firefighters could get more water at the flames. After peeling off the walls in front of rooms in the two-storey front of the building, the excavator punched holes in the floor to reach the basement level of the structure, which had walk-out entrances in the back. Once those holes were made, flames and black smoke billowed up and out of the building.
CBC / Jessome
The outside temperature was minus-11 C. (12º F.) creating extremely icy conditions leading to two FF injuries, one a broken arm.
At daybreak there were still spot fires throughout the largely-destroyed Pineview Inn. Initial observations indicate that the fire began in the middle portion of the building where the offices and restaurant kitchen are located. The 70-unit motel had five guests and five employees inside at the time the fire started and they all escaped safely.
The investigaters from the Provincial Fire Marshal office and the RCMP are on the scene interviewing people, but have not yet been able to enter the still-burning building to search out the cause and point of origin.
Two citizen videos have been posted:
* * *
The Chronicle-Herald has the STORY.
The Kings County Register has MORE.
ONE OF PUNXSUTAWNEY, PENNSYLVANIA's, older buildings downtown was destroyed by a fire early Saturday morning. The Hotel Punxsutawney and its attached restaurant the Smugglers Inn broke out in fire around 3 am and was quickly spotted by passers-by and police officers.
The fire department arrived with fire showing and called for mutual-aid assistance. About one hour later the roof and two walls on the upper floors collapsed. Both businesses were closed at the time of the fire and there were no guests booked into the hotel. The only injury was a minor one to a firefighter.
The State Police fire marshal is at the scene today and investigating the cause.
SOME NEW CONCERNS AND QUESTIONS have come up related to the B & B fire in New Ulm, Minnesota, last Saturday. (See Firegeezer reportHERE.) The fire roared through one of the town's more famous dwellings that has in recent years been operated as the Bohemian Bed & Breakfast. Six people died in the blaze, the owner, her two young daughters, and three guests that were sleeping also.
New Ulm Journal
The nearby carriage house, which also housed paying guests, had two families staying in the two of the three rooms there and they all escaped as the fire never extended to it.
During the course of the investigation it was discovered that the house did not have a current business license and thus had not been inspected by the city fire marshal. It had previously been licensed and inspected, but when the FM visited it this past December he was told that the house was not going to be used for lodging. The carriage house was licensed, however, and it passed the inspection. Now there is a question of why the guests were in the main house. One of the survivors of the fire said that his party and one other had paid to stay in the rooms over the holiday weekend while they had a reunion.
The fire marshal, who is also a volunteer firefighter, stated that when he arrived on the scene he could hear smoke detectors sounding in the burning structure. The state fire marshal office is not involved because they only inspect lodging facilities of six rooms or more. The main house had but four.
While the cause of the fire is still unknown and continuing to be investigated, the fire officials stated that they are not ruling out arson.
KSTP-TV posted this video report from Thursday's press conference:
Minneapolis Star-Tribune HERE.
The Leader HERE.
The Mankato Free Press HERE.
A NEW ULM, MINNESOTA, BED & BREAKFAST HOME burned down early Saturday morning taking the lives of six of the ten people who were sleeping inside. Three of the fatalities were the owner of the hotel and her two children ages 15 and 3. The other three victims have not been identified publicly yet.
Four people escaped the fire, one getting out on his own and the other three rescued from the second floor by firefighters. In addition, two families that were lodged in the carriage house also escaped safely.
The alarm for the Bohemian B&B was transmitted at 1:44 am Saturday and brought a response of 33 firefighters from New Ulm FD plus a company from neighboring Sleepy Eye. The New Ulm Journalreports:
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. The state fire marshal and the Fire Investigator from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working with New Ulm Fire to investigate the scene. (New Ulm Fire Chief Paul) Macho said the next press update will not be until after the holiday weekend, after the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's office has had a chance to identify the bodies.
Macho said the fire appears to have started on the porch facing German Street, and it quickly climbed the side of the exterior of the building before moving inwards. "It was fast," said Macho, "I'd guess it took 15 minutes before it was engulfed."
When New Ulm Fire arrived, the majority of the German Street side of the building was covered with fire. Working in two teams, firefighters made multiple attempts to pull people from the second and third floor. Four people were rescued, but firefighters were unable to rescue the other people still in the building because of the intense heat.
Journal / Muscatello
The 112-yr.-old building had smoke detectors installed, but no statement has been made whether they were operating or not. However they were operational in December when the fire marshal inspected the facility
KSTP-TV Ch. 5 has this video report from the scene:
The New Ulm Journal has the STORY.
The Mankato Free Press has MORE.
A 5-STAR HOTEL IN THE WALLED, MEDIEVAL CITY of Carcassonne, France, suffered heavy damage in one wing from a fire Thursday afternoon. The Hôtel de la Cité is one of the architectural gems of all World Heritage designated by UNESCO.
Dispatched at 16: 45 pm, around thirty firefighters and six engines responded, not without difficulty, making their way through the narrow streets of the city already overrun with tourists .
When the fire alarm was first sounded, almost all staff – with the exception of one who was stuck in an elevator and later released by firefighters – and the few customers who were then in their rooms were safely evacuated. At first a small team of employees tried to put the fire out using portable extinguishers, but they had no chance with it.
According to preliminary investigation, a cigarette butt landed on a wooden deck on 2nd floor of the hotel wing, and the flames were quickly fanned by strong winds. The fire spread into four bedrooms on the 2nd floor, and two others located one level above. Five to six of the luxurious rooms were burned out, but the firefighters had the blaze extinguished in an hour.
This home video captured the fire while interior extinguishment efforts were taking place:
After it was out, there was a detailed reconnaissance of the premises, using a thermal imaging camera, plus the removal of the remains of the furniture of the burned out rooms. As the debris was thrown over the railing of the terrace, cries were heard from the staff who were pained to see items dating back to the 18th century destroyed.
A couple of days ago we reported on a fire in a motel that swept through the structure completely destroying it before the local FD’s had a chance to set up a defense. The first-arriving companies had their hands full with evacuating the lodging that was 90% occupied along with a strong wind fanning the flames.
But one of the things that caught my attention as I read through the various news accounts and watched some videos from the scene, was there were no reports at all that anybody heard any sort of alarm. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any, only that nobody mentioned it. It was a 40 or 50 year old building, so it probably lacked a central alarm, but may have had smoke detectors in the rooms. It depends on how well the codes are enforced in that mostly-rural county and you know how that goes.
Reading that story brought back from the depths of my cranial data bank the suggestion made many years ago that it’s a good idea to take your own personal smoke detector with you when you travel and set it out in your room while you are sleeping. That’s one of those things that you immediately say, “That’s a great idea!” yet fail to heed when you travel. I have to admit that I have never taken a smoke detector along in my travels, but there is no way that I can justify not doing it. I just plain don’t think of it. Never have. While I always stay in modern hotels when I travel and they all have smoke detectors that are usually on a monitored system, we all know that doesn’t guarantee that they are working.
So I am wondering, do any of you take a smoke detector with you when you travel? Even if you meant to but forgot, you can pick one up on the road for only 10 bucks. I wonder if I will ever get in habit of doing that. Habit, heck….I haven’t even done it once. But it sure is a great idea.
Another great idea is to get this equipment checked out. I’ve got an idea to get some more coffee started, too. See you back in the day room in a little while.
A FIRE DESTROYED A LOGAN, WEST VIRGINIA, MOTOR HOTEL Friday night and Saturday morning. The well-known lodging has been a fixture for several decades and on Friday night 40 of the 45 rooms were occupied.
The fire started just before midnight and spread quickly as it was whipped by high winds that were in the area. The first-arriving fire departments were devoted to evacuating the many guests and the fire went largely unchecked at first. WSAZ-TV reported: The Logan Fire Department responded to the scene close to midnight Friday. The flames spread faster than firefighters could stop them. “The winds last night really hampered the fire department,” said Assistant State Fire Marshal Jason Baltic. “There were some pretty high winds that made it difficult for the fire department to try to extinguish this one.”
After the fire was out, the FD and the hotel took a roll call and discovered that one guest was unaccounted for. Later Saturday afternoon, while searching through the debris, the fire investigators found the remains of a charred body in the ruins of one of the rooms. It was burned beyond recognition, so it is not certain if it was the missing person or not.
WSAZ-TV Ch. 3 Huntington posted several video reports that includes some fire footage along with the full story HERE.
A FIRE SWEPT THROUGH A 5-STORY HOTEL in Tuguegarao City, Philippines early Sunday morning leaving 15 dead and 12 more injured.
The fire broke out around 1 am and trapped the victims in the budget bed & breakfast hostel. Nine of the dead were recent nursing school graduates that were in town expecting to take their final licensing examination later that day. The other six fatalities were all relatives of the hotel’s owner.
Some firefighters wept and prayed as they retrieved badly burned bodies. Grieving relatives converged at a morgue where remains of victims — 14 burned beyond recognition — were brought. Some fainted as body bags were brought into a funeral parlor.
“Their families spent fortunes to send these children to school only to see them end that way,” fire investigator Daniel Abana said.
“It’s so close to Christmas, we wept when we saw their bodies,” Abana told The Associated Press by telephone adding that dozens of guests, roused by the commotion, were rescued by firefighters and police or reached safety on their own.
Many of the dead had crammed in bathrooms on the top two floors. One victim had a foot stuck out of a window in a desperate attempt to survive, he added.
The fire started in an adjoining building that housed a motorcycle shop and spread to the B & B, destroying both buildings. The fire was knocked down by 5 am and at 2 pm all the victims had been accounted for and the search was discontinued. Investigation into the cause is just beginning.
FIRE INVESTIGATORS HAVE LOCATED THE ORIGIN AND CAUSE of the Hoover, Alabama, hotel fire that killed four college students last weekend. The fire began in the living quarters of the Days Inn’s resident maintenance man after he left his room with incense candles burning inside.
Fire Marshal’s photo showing the point of origin
Dhirajlal Bhagat, 55, returned to his room and found it ablaze. He first got a fire extinguisher to try and put it out, but the extinguisher didn’t work. He then tried to use a hotel phone to call in the fire, but reportedly he couldn’t get that to work either. Next he ran upstairs for another extinguisher, but by then the fire was too large for that.
The four women were trapped in their room on the floor above as the blaze burned outside their door. As it spread into the room, they retreated into the bathroom where they were later found by the firefighters. An autopsy disclosed that they died from smoke inhalation.
During the investigation it was found that Bhagat, who is from India, is in the country illegally and he is being held in the Hoover jail on an immigration charge. He will not be charged for the fire because it was ruled to be accidental.
THE FOUR VICTIMS FROM THE HOOVER, ALABAMA, Days Inn motel fire Saturday night (see Firegeezer report HERE) have been identified. The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office has confirmed that they were all young women who were students at the Mississippi University for Women. Three of them were age 18 and the fourth was 19 yrs. of age. They were returning to the school following a trip.
The Associated Press filed this video update:
The investigation into the cause is still ongoing.
A MAJOR FIRE RIPPED THROUGH A HOOVER, ALABAMA, MOTEL Saturday night leaving at least 4 people dead.
The fire started shortly after 8 pm Saturday in a Days Inn hotel and officials are reporting that all four victims were trapped in the same room. Despite the FF”s efforts to search as many rooms as they could before the wing became untenable, this party was not found until after the fire had been knocked down.
A careful search of all the units was being conducted this mornng as the investigation began on the cause and point of origin. The victims’ identities are being withheld currently. Approximately 2/3 of the hotel was destroyed by the fire.
The Birmingham News has the story and a photo gallery HERE.