‘There’s a Fire!’ Blackwood Howard Johnson Guests Sleep as Hotel Burns
GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP — Residents and guests of the burning Howard Johnson hotel in Blackwood were awakened early Wednesday morning by the shouts of a woman who happened to hear the building's faint fire alarm.
Renee Pritchett said she was the first to call police and posted video of herself and a friend running down the exposed hallway while pounding on doors and yelling "there's a fire!"
The alarm was loud enough once people stepped outside their rooms but Pritchett said it wasn't as noticeable indoors.
"Sad part is you couldn’t even hear the alarm," she says in the video.
Flames shot through the roof of the Howard Johnson hotel on Black Horse Pike (Route 168) after 3 a.m. The fire affected two of the hotel's three buildings, according to Gloucester Township police. The fire was brought under control by 5:30 a.m.
The federal Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 requires all hotels to have hard-wired smoke detectors and an automatic sprinkler systems in every room. The state Department of Community Affairs requires installation of smoke alarms with 10-year sealed batteries in buildings built before Jan. 1, 1977. After that date, hardwired alarms must be used.
An employee told NBC 10 Philadelphia the fire started in a third floor room in the back of the hotel.
Pritchett did not immediately return a message from the Townsquare News Network.
Police said there were no injuries and "numerous" guests were evacuated into the parking lot. 6 ABC Action News reported buses were brought in for displaced guests and staff. Police told CBS Philly fifteen rooms were affected by the fire.
Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said that while wind was not a major factor in the fire temperatures around 30 degrees would have been cold enough to freeze water being used by firefighters.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.