Today in fire history: motel fire kills one and injures 20 other guests

Blog Post created by paulalevesque Employee on Nov 23, 2014


On Wednesday, November 23, 1983, a fire occurred at the Travel Master Inn Motel located at 225 W. First Street in Dayton, Ohio.  The motel was a rectangular, four-story building, with basement, of mixed construction.  The ground floor contained a registration and lounge area, and the upper floors contained 66 guest rooms.

Earlier in the evening, on November 23, the building's fire detection and alarm system sounded throughout the building.  The hotel's desk clerk deactivated the system and went to the guest room portion of the building to determine the source of the alarm.  The clerk discovered a trash can fire on the third floor exit corridor and extinguished it with a portable fire extinguisher.  The detection system was not reactivated due to the residual smoke present in the corridor.  Approximately two and a half hours later, a third floor guest notified the desk clerk of a fire on the third floor.  The fire department was notified at 4:01 a.m.

First arriving fire fighters observed fire and heavy smoke conditions showing in the top two floors at the north end of the building.  In addition, an estimated 25 guests were located at windows on all the guest room levels awaiting rescue.  The fire ultimately resulted in one fourth-floor fatality, in over 20 persons being injured and in an estimated $700,000 property damage.

Fire investigators have listed the cause of the fire as undetermined; however, they determined that the fire originated at the north end of the third floor exit access corridor.

The following are considered to be major factors contributing to the loss of life and injury in this incident:

  • The location of the area of origin in the exit access corridor and the lack of automatic extinguishment in the incipient stage.
  • The presence of highly combustible interior finish materials in the exit access corridor.
  • The deactivation on the hotel's automatic fire detection and alarm system.
  • The lack of prompt notification of the fire department. 

For the full NFPA Fire Investigation report.