Lightning to Blame for Travelodge Fire, Employee Says
Lightning struck a building and caused a fire at the Travelodge on Towson Avenue in Fort Smith, according to an employee.
“There’s a guest was coming by here and he told the front desk there was a lightning strike and next thing they know there was smoke going,” said Feras Alhamwi, an employee.
Investigators say they are not sure what started the fire.
Firefighters were dispatched to the Travelodge at 5103 Towson around 2:30 p.m. Friday, a dispatcher said.
“And then it just went boom,” said Dinna Mickey, an eyewitness, “The fire was going and the wind was blowing.”
Eyewitnesses watched fire fill the Travelodge.
“When I seen the flames coming up I started running around to my neighbors and stuff and they was running out,” said Mickey, who lives in an apartment next to the
Thick black smoke filled the air making it difficult to breath for some.
“It smoked out everything,” said Brandon Duncan, an eyewitness.
Crews contained the fire to one building. Hotel employees say no one was living inside at the time.
“We evacuated the people from the building next over to it because of the smoke and stuff,” said Alhamwi.
The roof of the building caved in. Fire destroyed most of the rooms on the second floor.
“We called in for extra pumpers and put a stop to it real quick,” said Battalion Chief Skip Mathews.
Firefighters estimate at least 50-percent of the building is gone.
“It just took off and it was hard to contain,” said Mickey. “I mean those firefighters were out here fighting as hard as they could.”
The fire department says no one was injured Friday afternoon.