Georgia Holiday Inn fire kills one, injures 20

(Marietta, Georgia-AP) January 15, 2006 - One person was killed and 20 were injured in a three-alarm fire early Sunday at a suburban Atlanta Holiday Inn that fire officials said was one of the city's worst in decades.

Marietta Fire Chief Jackie Gibbs said, "This was a major hotel fire. We haven't experienced ever in Marietta, in my history, a hotel fire of this magnitude."

Gibbs, a firefighter for 28 years, said this is the first fatality from fire Marietta has had in several years. Gibbs says at least 20 people had to be rescued by ladder trucks from the burning seven-story hotel, located on Delk and Franklin roads near Interstate 75, just after 3:00am.

Of the hotel's 168 guests, 18 people were treated at area hospitals for smoke inhalation and minor injuries. Gibbs says two Cobb County firefighters also were injured in the blaze, but their injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.

Gibbs declined to release information on the person killed, pending notification of the next of kin.

The cause of the fire still is being investigated but officials said the fire was believed to have started from a hotel room on the second floor. The hotel sustained "serious" fire damage on floors two through five and had smoke damage throughout the entire building.

The hotel did not have a sprinkler system because it was built more than 30 years ago, before building codes required such safety devices.

Gibbs says the hotel's smoke and fire alarm system was working at the time of the blaze, although guests told Atlanta television stations that the alarms were faint and difficult to hear inside hotel rooms.

Nearly 100 firefighters from Marietta and Cobb County fought the blaze, which took more than an hour to extinguish. A phone message to Holiday Inn officials was not immediately returned today.

Posted 3:57pm by Bryce Mursch