“The hotel is a total write-off,” said Platoon Chief Dean Foley shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28.
At that point, the fire was contained and under control, but crews were still on scene putting water on hot spots.
Foley has been with the St. John’s Regional Fire Department (SJRFD) for 26 years. In comparison to other fires he’s fought over the years, he called this one “substantial”.
“The amount of time, and amount of equipment that we had committed to this fire was substantial.”
Three stations responded to the blaze: Brookfield, Mount Pearl, and West Fire Stations. A total of 36 firefighters worked with nine pieces of equipment to put out the fire.Foley spoke about the effort required to contain the blaze:
“The roof came in on it. We were having problems getting water to that area of fire underneath the roof, so the hotter it got, the more the roof caved in. So, we were working our way through that building, and the entire structure did catch on fire. So, basically we had our master stream, and our aerial devices from 8 o’clock this morning until now we’re still putting water on it.”
Saturday’s fire was reported to the SJRFD at about 5 a.m. When firefighters arrived on scene, there was heavy fire coming from the building.
Platoon Chief Roger Hounsell told The Telegram they fought the fire on the defensive from the outside as there were no guests or employees in the building.
On Saturday, the union representing St. John’s firefighters advised that anyone in the area who could smell smoke in their home should shut down the home’s air exchange unit.
“What's burning into the air is highly dangerous. Avoid breathing it in if you can,” read a tweet from the St. John’s Firefighters Association Local 1075 Twitter account.
"The smoke contains unburned particles of combustion which can carry in the smoke. That's why we have suggested turning off air exchangers and avoiding the area so that you do not inadvertently inhale the smoke."
🔥RESIDENTS OF MT PEARL ST.JOHN'S 🔥 Please consider shutting down your air exchange units if you are getting the smell of smoke in your home. What's burning into the air is highly dangerous. Avoid breathing it in if you can. @CityofStJohns @Mount_Pearl— IAFF Local 1075 St. John's Firefighters. (@IAFFLocal1075) December 28, 2019
Foley further explained that tweet was sent out because there was a ceiling of cloud that held the smoke in, whereas normally on a clear day the smoke would dissipate into the atmosphere.
“The smoke was getting caught up in the cloud pack and was basically spreading out over the city,” he said.
Traffic was diverted away from the area as Park Avenue from Commander Place to Topsail Road was closed from morning until late afternoon.