Forces Hundreds To Evacuate Hotel, Apartments
Guests Describe Hotel Inferno
SAN DIEGO -- Guests staying at a Hilton described
as the raging fire that woke them in the middle of
the night in Sorrento Valley.Firefighters were called
to the fire at a construction site in the 11000 block
of Vista Sorrento Parkway just before 2 a.m., fire
officials said. An unoccupied addition to the Hilton
Homewood Suites hotel was engulfed in flames when
The fire did millions of dollars in damage to the
hotel and the addition. Salt Lake City resident Ken
Lund, who was staying overnight with his family, photographed
the fire as the flames grew.
"I thought it was a nightmare," said Lund.
"All of a sudden, I felt intense heat in the
room," said Sherry Lund. "I woke up and
our room was glowing orange.... I screamed and woke
him up, and we yelled at our kids and ran. You could
hear the window popping."
The fire threatened the occupied portion of the hotel
and surrounding apartments, so firefighters evacuated
between 350 and 400 people, San Diego Fire Department
spokesman Maurice Luque said.
"The difficulties initially were just with the
evacuation, because there were a number of structures
that were being affected by the heat, the fire and
the smoke of the fire," Luque said. "There
were a number of people that had to be evacuated from
an adjoining hotel as well as some apartment complexes."
It took about 80 firefighters with 13 engines from
at least four fire departments about an hour to extinguish
the fire. It destroyed the building under construction
and damaged a number of rooms at the Homewood Suites,
fire officials said. It also damaged about 20 cars
parked at the hotel,
Hotel guests told that fire alarms and sprinklers
went off inside the hotel. Some guests said the windows
in their rooms shattered and curtains caught on fire.
About 100 guests could not return to their damaged
rooms at the Homeward Suites. The hotel's general
manager, Bob Rauch, said half the rooms could not
be occupied after the fire, so guests were relocated.
"The hotels in the area all offered their support,"
Hours later, Lund returned for his family's belongings,
but not much was left. The Lunds are due to fly home
to Salt Lake City on Wednesday. Hie family's experience
is a vacation story they will definitely share with
friends. If there is a next time, they will be prepared.
"I will definitely check fire exits in hotels
and fire escapes," said Sherry Lund.
Between 200 to 250 residents at the Archstone Torrey
Hills apartment complex were allowed to return to
The cause of the fire was under investigation. Fire
officials estimated the damage to the two buildings
at about $10 million.