Fire marshal to investigate after 5 injured in Jacksonville hotel fire
JACKSONVILLE, Texas (KLTV) - The cause of a fire that injured three Jacksonville firefighters and two others is still under investigation. One of the firefighters suffered serious injuries and is still being treated as of 4 p.m. Monday.
Caution tape is up around Hotel RITUAL and soot has scattered along the sidewalks following a fire that started about 1 p.m. Sunday. It’s located in the 500 block of El Paso Street, which the fire marshal has declared a complete loss. Jacksonville Fire Marshal Jeremy Pate said they got a call about smoke in the basement from the housekeeper, who was able to get out.
“They initially entered into the ground floor and didn’t see any fire there, so they proceeded to try to get into the basement and as they were trying to do that they could not get into the basement due to the heavy smoke in there,” Pate said.
Firefighters tried to chase the fire which had gotten into the walls and Pate said began scaling upward to the second and third floors.
“Eventually, it started to collapse part of the second floor onto the ground floor,” he said. “At that point we hollered for a mayday for everybody to get out and we started attacking it from the perimeter.”
Firefighters from all shifts were called in as well as several from surrounding East Texas departments.
Mary Farmer lives next door and said she got a call and went outside to see smoke coming from the roof.
“Well, I just hated it because it’s such a beautiful place. You know, she’s really had a beautiful place and renovated the whole inside of it and it was just beautiful,” Farmer said.
About two hours into their efforts on the hotel fire, Pate said a second and unrelated fire broke out across the street about one hundred yards away. Firefighters who were rehabbing immediately ran to that home to start attacking it.
“That one appears to have started somehow in the back of the house, either on the porch or in the laundry room, and that’s the only portion that was burnt,” Pate said. “The porch was burnt and the laundry room, utility room was burnt on that house before it was extinguished pretty quickly once our guys got there.”
Farmer said the hotel was always busy, with guests usually getting in on Thursdays and leaving on Sunday.
“I guess they didn’t know what to think really and they just couldn’t believe it, because this house has been there so many years,” she said.
Pate said there’s still six to seven feet of water in the basement so once they can get that out and get inside they will begin searching for a cause and origin.
One firefighter suffered major injuries, while two other firefighters and two bystanders also suffered injuries in a Jacksonville hotel fire.
The firefighters were responding to a fire at the Hotel Ritual on El Paso Street on Sunday.
The City of Jacksonville sent details on the hotel fire, as well as an unrelated house fire that broke out at the same time just down the road.
According to a press release, the fire at Hotel Ritual started at 1:06 p.m. The housekeeper was in the hotel at the time of the fire and made a call to 911. The housekeeper was able to get out and nobody else was in the hotel.
Firefighters arrived and went into the ground floor. While moving toward the basement, the fire moved between the walls to the second floor, causing the ceilings of the first floor to begin collapsing. Firefighters then got out of the hotel and began attacking from the perimeter.
All firefighters from other shifts and other agencies were called in to assist. Firefighters remained on scene until 9 p.m.
The outside of the hotel is still standing but the top two floors are mostly collapsed and it is extremely dangerous.
A couple hours after the hotel fire started, a second fire started at a home in the 700 block of Austin Street, 100 yards from the hotel fire. The fire was contained to the back porch and laundry room and extinguished within 30 minutes. Nobody was injured in the house fire. The resident was watching the hotel fire when this fire started, but the city states there is no reason to believe the fire was related to the hotel fire.
The city released the following statement:
“The Jacksonville Fire Department would like to send our gratitude to the many people that assisted at both fires. We had assistance from: North Cherokee Volunteer Fire Department, Earle’s Chapel Volunteer Fire Department, Reklaw Volunteer Fire Department, Gallatin Volunteer Fire Department, Rusk Fire Department, Maydelle Volunteer Fire Department, Smith County ESD, Christus Mother Francis Hospital, UT Health Hospital and UT Health EMS, The Jacksonville Police Department, Jacksonville Public Works, Whataburger, and the many citizens that continually brought food, snacks, and drinks to the scene so that everyone could stay hydrated in the 100 degree weather. It was amazing to see the support from the City, the citizens of Jacksonville, and the surrounding communities”
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