Firefighters believe a discarded cigarette butt is behind the evacuation of Sidney’s Travelodge on Beacon Avenue on Sunday.
At around 9 a.m., the Sidney Fire Department was called to the hotel after patrons and staff there reported smoke filling the lower floors. Deputy Fire Chief Brett Mikkelsen says when crews arrived, they found all four floors filled with smoke billowing up through the southern staircase.
A fire had started outside of the hotel, close to where the building vents a laundry room. Mikkelsen said the volume of smoke made it appear that the fire was coming from a dryer, but in reality, it had started outside.
“It wasn’t a dryer fire,” he expained. “In the parking lot, there is a grated area where there are dryer and other vents. At its base was a collection of leaves and other debris next to a bucket used (by smokers).”
A cigarette butt, Mikkelsen said, probably fell into that area, started the fire and sent smoke billowing through the Travelodge. He added the official cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The hotel was evacuated as a safety precaution, Mikkelsen said.
“The staff did a good job helping us with that,” he said.
Once the building was clear and the fire out, Mikkelsen said crews got to the roof to help vent the smoke. He added there was no damage done to the building, but it will smell like smoke for a little while.
Seventeen firefighters attended the incident from the Sidney department, as well as RCMP and paramedics as a precaution.
When it was determined there was no danger, he said firefighters were able to get into some of the occupants’ rooms to retrieve bags for those people who needed to catch a plane or a ferry.
“That was a bit of customer service,” Mikkelsen laughed.
“As long as the fire is under control, we want to serve the community.”