“Nothing but an accident”: Ottumwa Fire Chief reveals cause of Hotel Ottumwa fire

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 3:51 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - Crews continue to review and repair the sixth floor of Hotel Ottumwa after Monday night’s fire. Residents were evacuated from the building Monday evening as firefighters put out a fire in an elevator storage room and funneled smoke out of the building.

The hotel is now letting residents back in, though at time of publication the power is still off on the 4th, 5th, and 6th floors. The elevator is shut off, with the hotel’s maintenance worker saying it likely won’t be back up until Friday.

Fire Chief Tony Miller says the fire was caused by an electrical issue in an elevator storage closet. An electrical meter corroded, sparking a fire, and catching a roll-up mattress in the room on fire. It activated a sprinkler on the 6th floor, which firefighters say helped in putting out the fire quickly.

However, Chief Miller notes these types of sparks can just happen from time to time. “Hotel Ottumwa is maintained pretty good, but occasionally you have an accident. And that was what this was: nothing but an accident. Between the fire department and health department, we inspect that place on a regular basis. So if there’s anything that’s off kilter, we take care of it and make sure it’s maintained like it should be.”

The fire department is reviewing the fire damage done to the room and sixth floor of the hotel. They also had to kick in a door on the sixth floor to rescue a resident. Chief Miller says they took two people to the hospital, both with smoke immolation.

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