Abandoned New Orleans East hotel catches fire Thursday night

Published: Jan. 25, 2013 at 4:06 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM CST
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New Orleans, La. – Firefighters responded to reports of smoke coming from an abandoned nine story hotel, formerly known as the Holiday Inn, in the 6000 block of Chef Mentuer Highway late Thursday night.

Fireman arrived to the scene around 10:45 p.m. when the fire immediately struck a second-alarm at 10:47 p.m.  and climbed to a four-alarm fire at 11:21 p.m.

Investigators believe the fire was contained to the building's first floor, pending the completion of a floor-by-floor, room-to-room search of the entire abandoned high rise for possible fire extension and possible persons inside.

Officials say the building is a known haven for vagrants.

"A fire in an abandoned high rise like this is a fire department's worst nightmare," explains Superintendent Parent, "The lack of a working standpipe or sprinkler system increased the threat of fire extending vertically through elevator shafts and vents, couple that with the condition of the structure and the possibility of multiple persons trapped makes for a severe life safety risk for my firefighters."

Twenty-nine NOFD units carrying 83 personnel responded to this incident, bringing it under control at 11:46 p.m.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but investigators say it is was likely caused by either arson or accidental by vagrants.

Two firefighters were reported injured and treated on the scene; one sustained a puncture wound to the hand and the other complained dizziness and exhaustion.

The New Orleans Police Department, New Orleans Emergency Medical Services, the American Red Cross and Entergy were all on the scene to assist with the mitigation of this incident.