Firefighters halt basement fire at Holiday Inn in North Adams

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NORTH ADAMS — Officials believe improper disposal of oily rags led to a small fire at The Holiday Inn on Tuesday morning.

The entire 90-room hotel was evacuated early Tuesday morning after a fire broke out in the basement. Firefighters located and quickly knocked down the fire inside a trash container in the building's boiler room, according to North Adams Fire Director Stephen Meranti.

The fire "could have been a lot worse," Meranti said.

"Guys got on scene, and they had smoke in the basement in the pool area. They tracked it down to smoke coming from the boiler room," he said. "There was a lot of smoke in the basement — not much heat."

The fire was reported at exactly midnight, first by alarms and then by a 911 call from the Main Street hotel.

Oil-soaked rags should be disposed of in a metal can, filled with water, and sealed with a lid, Meranti stressed. When left out in a pile, oily rags can combust and spark a fire.

"With it being in a restricted space, there's no where for the heat to dissipate," Meranti said.

Luckily, the fire on Tuesday was contained to the plastic trash bin.

Firefighters worked to clear the building of smoke with positive pressure fans and ensure there was no carbon monoxide present in the hotel before clearing the scene and allowing guests back inside at about 2:30 a.m.

"The basement was the [area] that had the heaviest smoke," Meranti said. "There were some light smoke conditions on the first floor, but the upper floors appear to be OK." 

A single sprinkler head in the boiler room activated, but not until after firefighters arrived.

Guests reported waking to the fire alarms and smelling smoke as they evacuated down the hotel's stairs.

The former Sleepy's mattress store on Main Street was opened to provide temporary shelter to the hotel's displaced guests.

Due to the number of people in the building, all of the city's firefighters were called in, with several working on the scene and others on standby at the station. North Adams Ambulance Service and North Adams Police also responded to assist.

At the time of the call, firefighters had just cleared from 85 Main St., where an alarm had been activated due to the city's ongoing flushing of fire hydrants.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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