ELLSWORTH – A fire in the laundry room forced the evacuation of guests at the Holiday Inn on High Street Wednesday night.
According to Ellsworth fire Chief Robert McKenney, the fire started in one of the dryers in the laundry room and quickly filled much of the motel with smoke. A Holiday Inn employee noticed the fire and realized where it was coming from.
“He pretty much extinguished the fire with a hand-held extinguisher,” McKenney said.
Motel staff followed a set plan to evacuate guests from their rooms, according to general manager Thomas Mann, and the motel was empty by the time firefighters arrived on the scene. Some waited in the restaurant area of the motel, while others sat in their cars until firefighters cleared the scene.
Officers at the scene said one little boy was concerned that his “Chia toy” had been burned.
There was no official count on the number of people evacuated from the motel, according to McKenney. At the time of the fire, 32 rooms had been occupied with an average of about two people to a room. Not all the guests were in the motel when the fire started.
Firefighters ran lines to the laundry room and made sure the fire was out and then set up fans to ventilate the hallways and individual rooms.
The fire was contained to the commercial propane dryer. It caused heavy smoke damage to the laundry room but little damage to other areas of the motel. Most of the guests were expected to be able to spend the night in their assigned rooms.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation Wednesday night. McKenney said the dryer was full of linens and was operating at the time the fire started. He said it appeared that the smoldering clothing was the source of most of the smoke.
He said the dryer had been unattended at the time of the fire.
No one was injured in the fire.
About 20 firefighters from the Ellsworth department responded.