One occupant pulled to safety in motel fire

Press release from Gainesville Fire Rescue

At 3:59 a.m. on October 2, crews from Gainesville Fire Rescue (GFR) were called for a fire at the Knights Inn Motel on NW 13th St. Employees from a neighboring business heard a man screaming “help me” and saw smoke coming from one room of the four building motel complex. Bystanders pulled the man to safety as firefighters from GFR stations five, eight, and one went to work containing the fire.

According to Incident Commander Jeff Schuhmacher, the building was constructed with fire walls, concrete walls designed to limit the spread of fire, on both sides of the room that had the fire. This both helped and hindered the firefighters. Although it limited the spread of the fire, the construction of the building allowed the fire and heat to build in the room, which firefighters then had to search in high heat, zero visibility, and under fire conditions. No further occupants were located. Additionally, crews from GFR were hampered by the location of hydrants in the area that required them to remove part of a fence to avoid closing down NW 13th St in both directions. Despite the challenges, GFR had units on scene within six minutes of notification, located the fire in the complex, and had water on the seat of the fire within nine minutes; they had the room searched and the fire out within 13 minutes of notification.

Crews from GFR spent the week on numerous buildings off NW University Ave. that are slated to be torn down, practicing hose deployment strategies designed for complexes, like the Knights Inn motel, that have courtyards. Firefighters said this type of “destructive training”, training where the firefighters can deploy hose lines in buildings whose layout they are unfamiliar with, is invaluable. Crews also got to practice breeching doors, breeching walls, pulling ceiling, and cutting ventilation holes in the roof. These are all techniques firefighters use for rescue, self-rescue, extinguishment, and locating extension of the fire. The training, which will conclude Friday, October 2, was scheduled to culminate in the “National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend,” the official national tribute to those firefighters who died in the line of duty during the previous year. To honor the firefighters who gave their lives to their community, GFR stations one, two, three, and four will be lit in red lighting through October 4. Assistant Fire Chief Joseph Hillhouse said this training and the tribute is important because GFR’s workforce is very young, and remembering the fallen firefighters and their families reminds the department not to take their safety for granted.

One person was transported in stable condition from the Knights Inn fire. The cause of the fire was determined to be smoking in bed. One in 20 (5%) of home structure fires are started by smoking materials, and smoking is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths. During 2012-2016, an estimated annual average of 18,100 (5%) reported home structure fires were started by smoking materials that killed an average of 590 (23%) people annually, injured 1,130 (10%) per year, and caused $476 million in direct property damage (7%) per year. GFR would like to remind everyone to practice proper home fire safety practices. For more information visit www.GFR.org or follow the department on social media at @GFR1882 on Twitter or Gainesville Fire Rescue on Facebook.