A fire ripped through a motel on West Second Street Thursday afternoon, blazing through at least six unoccupied rooms on the first and second floors. Fire Department officials say one firefighter suf fered minor first- or seconddegree burns.
Roswell Fire Chief James Salas said the fire began around 3:30 p.m. on the north side of the Leisure Inn, 2700 W. Second St., and was contained within 30 minutes by about 15 firefighters. Salas said the cause of the fire is unknown at this point in the investigation, but he suspects it started in the utility room in the basement of the motel, where men were doing maintenance work.
â€œIt came up from the bottom floor,â€ Salas said, adding that the fire spread north, went through the roof, and â€œextensive damage was done to the building.â€ Firefighters knocked out windows to battle the heavy smoke in the motel rooms. Roswell Fire Marshall and Arson Investigator Bill Wells said a firefighter was burned on his neck by falling debris in one of the rooms.
A Roswell EMS technician treated him at the scene and said he would not have to be transported to a hospital for further care. Naser Yousefi, of Roswell, says he was one of the maintenance men working in the basement with the owner of the motel when the fire started.
He says they were welding a oneinch pipe in the basement when something sparked and caught fire. â€œWe got out, and we got a hose, then we called 911,â€ Yousefi said. Although the owner of Leisure Inn declined to comment, Yousefi expressed disbelief that this could happen.
â€œ(The owner) is a professional,â€ he said. â€œFor about 20 years, heâ€™s been running the hotels and plumbing and everything.â€ A crowd of spectators and lodgers staying at the motel gathered outside of the motel in the street. â€œSmoke was rolling down through here,â€ said Gary Williams, of Phoenix, who has been staying in a room just around the corner from where the fire started.
â€œI thought for sure it was all going to go up.â€ One lodger said she smelled the smoke then came outside to see what was going on. â€œI saw the smoke in the air from my room and I said something is on fire,â€ she said. â€œThen, I went over there, and I said, â€˜Wow, something really is on fire!â€™â€