Late-night fire at east hill hotel displaces guests to other area lodging

November 21, 2014 by Mark H. Anbinder

About 100 guests were displaced to other area hotels after a laundry room fire forced the Best Western University Inn to evacuate its guests into the cold Thursday night at about 11:15pm. The Ithaca Fire Department tells us firefighters were called to the scene as smoke filled the facility at the east end of East Hill Plaza.

IFD public information officer Lt. Thomas T. Basher Jr. says crews stretched a hose to the laundry room at the north end of the building to knock down the fire, but had to back off briefly when firefighters felt tingling through their boots that warned them of an electrical problem. The fire had burned through insulation on the electrical meter serving the laundry equipment, "charging the area with electricity," Basher says.

Firefighters worked with NYSEG to find the main electrical shut-off to that building, and were then able to extinguish the remaining fire and check all of the hotel rooms in the area of the fire.

Firefighters from Ithaca's central fire station and Collegetown's station 9 knocked down the fire, and officials credit their fast response and the Best Western's effective fire alarm system with saving the building. Guests were accommodated at other area hotels last night, and a hotel staff member says part of the facility remains closed on Friday morning, though part of the hotel is operational. "The general manager is working with the fire chief right now" to determine whether the remaining rooms can be reopened, the staff member says. Home football and hockey games this weekend on the Cornell campus mean a busy weekend for area hotel rooms.

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