closed following afternoon fire
Posted on Thu, Apr. 06, 2006
The blaze at Country Inns & Suites started in the
The fire started shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, a thin
plume of smoke rising from the center of the hotel.
In no time, the Country Inns & Suites at 5926 Cross
Creek Blvd., just off Washington Center Road, was in
“You saw a little bit of smoke,
but you didn’t really think much of it,”
said Alex May of Indianapolis, a guest at the hotel
and one of the first to notice something was wrong.
“It could’ve been anything.”
All staff and guests were safely evacuated. Nobody
was hurt in the blaze, though paramedics were on the
scene just in case.
An investigation ruled the cause of the fire to be
an electrical problem. Deputy Fire Chief Pete Kelly
of the Fort Wayne Fire Department said the attic,
where the fire originated, sustained heavy damage.
The three-story hotel, he said, could be closed for
a couple of days to a couple of weeks, though that
would be left up to code enforcement.
Motel management was working with area hotels to
house displaced guests. A room on the third floor
suffered structural damage after firefighters entered
the attic through it. It took firefighters who first
responded “a little bit of time” to make
their way to the fire, he said.
“Sometimes you’ll be on the third floor
below that area, and you know something’s going
on above you and you see smoke on the roof, but sometimes
it’s hard to access that area,” Kelly
said. “They (firefighters) had to make access
through some of the ceilings and a couple of rooms
on the third floor.”
May said he and some other guests notified an employee
at the front desk when they first saw smoke, then
went back outside. As the smoke thickened, May went
in and retrieved his belongings from his room. That’s
when the fire alarm went off.
When May came back outside, not only was there smoke,
there were flames.
“It started really coming out,” May said.
“It was real thick, and the smoke coming out
the back was especially thick.”
May said firefighters arrived quickly, and police
followed. About a dozen guests and employees watched
from the lawn just off the parking lot. Onlookers
not staying at the hotel watched from across the street.
Eventually, eight fire engines from across the city
responded. Firefighters treated the blaze as a high-rise
fire, using special equipment that allowed them to
pump water higher than the first floor. By 1:40 p.m.,
only a few flames flickered on the roof of the hotel’s
charred center gable. The hotel’s sign also
was damaged. Some firefighters were stationed on the
roof with chain saws; others fought the blaze in a
third-floor room next to the gable, checking for hot
“They really isolated it to the peak area there,”