On July 23, 1971 in New Orleans, Louisiana, six people died when fire erupted in a twelfth story room of a 17-story hotel. At about 2 a.m. the hotel management had a disagreement with the occupants of room 1218 over rules, and the occupants of that room checked out and left the building. Some time later, other hotel occupants noticed the smell of smoke and reported it to the front desk. Two hotel security guards investigated and determined that the fire was in room 1218. One guard broke the door to the room open while the other started evacuating guests.
Five of the victims of the fire were trying to escape by taking the elevator down from the fifteenth floor. When the elevator reached the twelfth floor, it stopped and the doors opened, allowing heat and smoke to pour into the car.
Factors contributing to the severity of this incident included:
- Delayed notification of the Fire Department
- The guard opening the door to the room, allowing fire to enter the hallway
Members can download the full Fire Journal article. Those interested in more information about hotel and motel fires can download NFPA's free fact sheet, and members can read a full report.