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Hotel Fire in Atlanta Suburb Kills One
01.15.2006, 02:33 PM
Fire broke out in suburban Atlanta hotel early Sunday, killing one person and injuring more than a dozen others.

Firefighters had to rescue about 20 of the hotel's 168 guests who barricaded the doors of their rooms to keep the smoke out, Cobb County Fire Chief Jackie Gibbs said.

The fire started about 3 a.m., apparently on the second floor of the 30-year-old Holiday Inn, firefighters said. The cause was under investigation, officials said.

The hotel did not have a sprinkler system, Gibbs said.

Marietta Fire Chief Jackie Gibbs said, "This was a major hotel fire. We haven't experienced ever in Marietta, in my history, a hotel fire of this magnitude."

Gibbs, a firefighter for 28 years, said this is the first fatality from fire Marietta has had in several years. Gibbs says at least 20 people had to be rescued by ladder trucks from the burning seven-story hotel, located on Delk and Franklin roads near Interstate 75, just after 3:00am.

Of the hotel's 168 guests, 18 people were treated at area hospitals for smoke inhalation and minor injuries. Gibbs says two Cobb County firefighters also were injured in the blaze, but their injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.

Gibbs declined to release information on the person killed, pending notification of the next of kin.

The cause of the fire still is being investigated but officials said the fire was believed to have started from a hotel room on the second floor. The hotel sustained "serious" fire damage on floors two through five and had smoke damage throughout the entire building.

The hotel did not have a sprinkler system because it was built more than 30 years ago, before building codes required such safety devices.

Gibbs says the hotel's smoke and fire alarm system was working at the time of the blaze, although guests told Atlanta television stations that the alarms were faint and difficult to hear inside hotel rooms.

Nearly 100 firefighters from Marietta and Cobb County fought the blaze, which took more than an hour to extinguish. A phone message to Holiday Inn officials was not immediately returned today.

Marietta fire officials and Holiday Inn officials did not immediately return calls seeking additional comment Sunday.

Eighteen hotel guests were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries, including one man who broke his foot. Two firefighters were also injured, Gibbs said.

Fire officials did not immediately release information on the person who died in the fire.


Updated

Lodgian, one of the nation's largest
independent owners and operators of full-service hotels, including the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Marietta, Ga., said that they have temporarily closed the hotel, pending completion of a fire department investigation.
The hotel's fire alarm system reported a fire at approximately 3 a.m. this morning. Hotel staff immediately notified fire department officials and began assisting in the evacuation of guests. According to fire department officials, the fire caused one fatality and 26 additional guests were evacuated to the hospital. The cause of the fire is under investigation, which is expected to be concluded later this week.
"We are deeply saddened by the death and injuries, and our prayers are with our guests, associates and their families," said Ed Rohling, Lodgian president and chief executive officer. "We have relocated guests to other accommodations in the city. We will determine when the hotel will re-open following the investigation and evaluation of the extent of the damage." Hotel guests who wish to reclaim their belongings or have questions about future reservations may call 770-952-7581.
Lodgian is one of the largest independent owners and operators of full- service hotels in the United States. The company currently owns and/or manages a portfolio of 78 hotels with 14,120 rooms located in 29 states and Canada. Of the company's 78-hotel portfolio, 49 are InterContinental Hotels Group brands (Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Select and Holiday Inn Express) 16 are Marriott brands (Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites and Residence Inn), and 11 are affiliated with four other nationally recognized hospitality franchises such as Hilton and Carlson (Radisson and Park Inn). Two hotels are independent, unbranded properties. For more information about Lodgian, visit the company's Web site: http://www.lodgian.com.

This press release includes forward-looking statements related to Lodgian's operations that are based on management's current expectations, estimates and projections. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results could differ materially. The words "guidance," "may," "should," "expect," "believe," "anticipate," "project," "estimate," "plan," and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Certain factors are not within the company's control and readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements. These statements involve risks and uncertainties including, but not limited to, the company's ability to generate sufficient working capital from operations and other risks detailed from time to time in the company's SEC reports. The company undertakes no obligations to update events to reflect changed assumptions, the occurrence of unanticipated events or changes to future
results over time.

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