La Quinta evacuated Wednesday morning; Faulty HVAC unit prompts re alarm

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, January 27, 2018

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Wake Up Call

WAKE-UP CALL – Firefighters responded to a fire alarm at La Quinta Hotel in Bridgeport Wednesday. The hotel was evacuated as firefighters searched for the origin of the reported smoke. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The La Quinta Inn and Suites in Bridgeport was evacuated between 7:30 and 8 Wednesday morning following a fire.

There was no obvious damage to the building, and guests reported seeing smoke but no flames.

Bridgeport Fire Chief Terry Long said a faulty heating and air conditioning unit on the first floor was to blame.

“The blower motor went out,” he said.

After the smoke alarms went off, the power went out, and three people were trapped in an elevator while trying to escape.

An officer from the R.L. Lindsey State Jail in Jacksboro staying at the La Quinta said as soon as the elevator stopped, they called 911 for help.

“I sat down and thought, ‘I might as well get comfortable; it could be a while …” he said.

He started smelling smoke at which point he jumped into action.

“I took it upon myself to not wait for help to arrive,” he said. “I pried open the elevator door.”

He said they were stuck between the first and second floors. After opening the door, he was able to climb to the second floor and then helped the others out.

“I got their suitcases and ran down and notified the police [that] we got out and were all safe and accounted for,” he said.

Long said about 20 people, including staff and guests, were evacuated from the building.

Stephen Adair of Jasper, who is also working at the jail in Jacksboro, had just returned to his second-floor room to sleep after working a 12-hour shift.

“The fire alarm went, off and the lights started flashing,” he said. “I thought it might be a false alarm, but then the power went off.”

Adair said he felt the door of his room to see if it was hot before opening it. He then ventured into the hallway and headed to the stairs.

“I couldn’t smell smoke until I got to the stairwell. I touched that door, too, to make sure it wasn’t hot before I opened it.”

Long said no one was injured, and everyone was allowed back inside about an hour later.

In addition to Bridgeport FD, Paradise Fire Department, Lake Bridgeport Fire Department, Bridgeport Police Department and Wise County medics were also called to the scene.

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