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HOTEL FIRE NEW JOURNAL-64
 

Fire 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 they arrived.

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," Rauch said.

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 their homes.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Fire officials estimated the damage to the two buildings at about $10 million.

Five Killed in Atlanta-Area Hotel Fire

Atlanta (WXIA) - A raging fire that broke out early Thursday morning at the Budget Inn in Riverdale left five people who were gathered inside a bathtub dead. Five others, including two firefighters, were injured with one woman critically hurt with second and third degree burns. The search through the rubble was underway to check for more victims.

It took fire and emergency crews more than an hour to knock down the blaze. Riverdale firefighters responded to the scene, which eventually became a four-alarm fire fought by both Riverdale and Clayton County fire crews.

Three civilians and two firefighters were among the injured survivors of the blaze at 709 King Road. Two of the residents, and man and a woman, were treated and released from Grady Memorial Hospital but a third was listed in critical condition. The two injured firefighters were treated at Southern Regional Hospital -- one for burns to the hands and the other for heat exhaustion. Both firefighters were also released.

State Fire Commissioner John Oxendine and officials with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrived at the scene by the noon hour to look for the cause of the fast-moving blaze. The hotel was not required to have sprinklers inside the rooms and some residents complained that their smoke detectors did not sound.
A medical helicopter was called to the scene. One female resident was transported to the hospital, as well as the two Riverdale firefighters.

Riverdale Fire Chief Alex Cohilas said in a news conference that investigators believed the fire started in the left corner of the building. He also said that crews had shifted from a firefighting operation to a rescue operation.

Firefighters were unable to say how many people were inside the hotel, as the hotel's records were destroyed in the fire. They were trying to determine how many rooms were rented at the time and how many people might have gone missing.

 

 

 


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