This fire occurred Friday morning around 9:30 AM in Pekin, Illinois. Only about ten of the 70 rooms in the ten-year-old hotel were occupied. Fire officials say the fire began in the attic out of the reach of sprinklers. Here are excerpts from an article by Sharon Woods Harris and Tara Mattimoe of the Pekin Daily Times:
Upon arrival, Pekin firefighters entered the attic with a hose and found it fully engulfed. After attempting to extinguish the fire, firefighters were pulled out because the lightweight wooden trusses supporting the roof burn quickly and the roof was in danger of collapse, (Pekin Fire Chief Kurt) Nelson said.
Within 20 minutes the roof collapsed and disabled the sprinklers in the rest of the building, said Nelson. Once firefighters were outside, the blaze broke completely through the roof, which began to collapse.
Ramesh Patel, manager of the Super 8 Motel, said that when they first noticed the fire it was right above the sign in the middle of the building. Then it spread to the left, then just went everywhere.
The fact that witnesses saw where the fire was erupting from the building first will help determine a cause, said Nelson. He said at this time he suspects an electrical malfunction.
Nelson said the state fire code and the city code does not require sprinklers and alarm systems for attics in hotels and motels, but Nelson said that is something strongly encouraged. Nelson said it would be easy for the city council to make such a requirement.
Pekin City Manager Dennis Kief said the Pekin City Council could revise the city code to make sprinklers a requirement.
“That is something I would purely rely on the fire chief to make a recommendation,” said Kief. “If the chief felt it worth pursing we could get with the inspections board and look at blending it into the fire code.
“But I have to be honest with you — when people come here and look to build here they say, ‘Well, we won’t have to do that in this other town.’ It is probably something we need to look at.”