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Hotel fire worsened by delay in 911 call

GRAND CHUTE — A fire that swept the Days Inn hotel early Sunday caused $1 million in damage.

Grand Chute Fire Chief John Pauls said damage to the hotel at 200 N. Perkins St. included $800,000 to the structure and
$200,000 to contents.

The fire was reported at 2:13 a.m., at least 25 minutes after it was first discovered by hotel guests, according to fire investigator Mike Geissler.

“Hotel guests were seen leaving the hotel at 2 a.m. on a hotel surveillance camera,” Geissler said in a press release. “Witnesses also stated they tried unsuccessfully to fight the fire with portable extinguishers prior to activating the local fire alarm.”

Pauls attributed part of the delay to civilian efforts to put out the blaze. “Before the alarm sounded, witnesses made
statements that people tried to put out the fire using extinguishers.”

Pauls said Wednesday there was no explanation why no one called 911 during the 13 minutes that videotape showed
people leaving the hotel.

Geissler said the cause of the fire is undetermined, but is not considered suspicious.

“We believe the fire originated in the area above the ceiling of the maintenance office on the second floor of the hotel;
however, due to the extensive damage, an exact cause cannot be determined,” he said.

Pauls said the delay in notifying the fire department was significant because when firefighters arrived, the hotel was filled with dense smoke and flames were shooting from the roof.

Dan Rodriguez and his wife, Lisa, had been in their second-floor room for no more than 15 minutes after a night out when they heard someone yelling “fire.”

Rodriguez, 27, said he left the room and saw flames coming from what appeared to be a maintenance or storage closet
near his room overlooking the pool area.

Rodriguez said he and a friend attempted to put out the fire with fire extinguishers.

“My friend pulled the fire alarm,” he said. “After we used up three extinguishers, the fire and smoke got to be too much.
It spread pretty quickly. Everything happened so fast.”

Rodriguez said people were milling around in the hotel lobby. “There were people standing around with no clue what was
happening. They weren’t sure there was a fire, but I had seen the flames,” he said.It took firefighters from several
departments nearly two hours to bring the blaze under control. Two Grand Chute firefighters suffered minor injuries
when a portion of the ceiling in the pool area collapsed.

More than 150 hotel guests and staff escaped the blaze without injury.

The hotel remains closed, but the adjacent Horseshoe Lounge, which was protected by fire doors, is open for business.

 
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