Today in fire history: successful evacuation in high-rise hotel fire

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Feb 13, 2012

On February 13, 1975, a fire occurred in a nine-story hotel in Peoria, Illinois.  Due to the efforts of local police and firefighters, 119 guests, many of whom did not speak English, were evacuated and there were no fatalities.  Many guests in the hotel were from around the world, attending a construction equipment conference. 

At around 1:00 a.m. one of the guests returned to his room on the seventh floor of the hotel from a party on the ninth floor of the building.  He then turned on his TV set and lay down on his bed.  The next thing that he remembered was waking up to find his mattress on fire.  He attempted to get the mattress out the window, but he was unable to get it through.  He then left the room, leaving the window and the door to the room open.  He then left the building without notifying anyone about the fire or sounding an alarm.

The Peoria police were patrolling the area around the hotel due to the large number of out-of-town visitors at the conference.  Several police were nearby when they were notified by a woman outside the building.  The officers then notified the fire department and entered the building to begin to evacuate guests.  They eventually charged standpipe hose lines in the hotel and used them to control the fire while they notified guests.  The fire department arrived shortly thereafter and began to evacuate guests using aerial ladders, as well as engaging in fire suppression.

The presence of police officers in the immediate area of the hotel, as well as their fire fighting and rescue actions likely saved many lives.  NFPA members can read a full report