NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Holiday Inn had to be evacuated around midnight on Monday after a fire in the boiler room sent smoke through the basement and into the first floor.
The report of smoke in the building was reported shortly before midnight, right after firefighters finished responding to an alarm that went off at 85 Main St. (A number of automatic alarms have been triggered by the annual hydrant flushing over the past week or so.)
Fire Director Stephen Meranti said firefighters searched through the basement area and found the fire in a type of plastic trash container in the boiler room.
"There was a lot of smoke in the basement, not much heat, but because we had so many people in the building we made an all-call," he said. Two shifts were dealing with smoke at the hotel while a third shift was covering the station, right across the street.
Firefighters were able to snuff the blaze pretty quickly and were using fans to drive out the smoke.
"The basement had the heaviest smoke, there was some light smoke on the first floor," Meranti said. "The upper floors appear to be OK, the stairwells are closed ... The stairwell doors automatically close so the smoke didn't get up to that point."
One guest said he'd come down from the fifth floor and could smell the smoke. It smelled like burning trash or plastic, he said.
Firefighters accessed the basement from an exterior stairwell on the west side, near the Hadley Overpass, and worked their way through the pool area to the boiler room.
"It was on fire when they opened the door. ... there was a lot of smoke coming through," Meranti said, adding a sprinkler head in the boiler room did go off, but not until firefighters were already in the room.
The cause had not yet been determined early Tuesday morning. Meranti said they were focused on clearing the smoke and testing for carbon dioxide before letting guests back into the building. The health and building inspectors were also called to the scene.
However, the area where the fire started was not open to the public, he said. "It was a secured area."
It was not clear how many guests were staying in the 90-room hotel but close to three dozen appeared to be outside. The former Sleepy's mattress store was opened for guests to wait but many were standing in the street. It was a mild night with temperatures in the high 50s.
North Adams Ambulance Service had an ambulance at the scene and was overseeing access to the store. American Legion Drive was closed between Main and Summer streets to keep it clear for fire trucks.
"It was a quick knockdown, the guys did a good job knocking it down quick and it didn't spread to any other areas," Meranti said.
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