WASHINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) – It was a busy morning for firefighters in Washington County as fire and thick smoke filled the George Washington Hotel Sunday.
The blaze was reported around 10:30 a.m. at the building on South Main Street and is believed to have started in the laundry room.
Heavy smoke was pouring from a window when firefighters arrived at the scene. The fire spread quickly into the ceiling and up the walls.
“The smoke that was generated, of course, went into the ductwork and up the stairways, and filled the building with smoke,” said Washington Fire Chief Linn Brookman.
Officials say about 100 residents live in the 10-story building.
Bill Hannen, one of the residents of the building, said he realized that he needed to get out when he opened the door to his eighth-floor apartment.
“I opened the door. I said, ‘There’s a fire here!’ It looked like we were up in the clouds, and [I] couldn’t see nothing,” said Hannen.
Firefighters went around knocking on doors to warn residents about the fire, and helping others get out of the building.
“They were beating on the doors,” said Delene Prather, another resident. “We just happened to open ours, and went down the fire exit. You couldn’t see nothing.”
Firefighters assisted 25 people. Officials say five were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
The State Police Fire Marshal is investigating the cause. This is the second fire in the building since 2006.
The last fire at the nearly 100-year-old building also happened on a Sunday.
Washington firefighters were working to air all of the smoke out of the building after the fire was extinguished. Officials said they were expecting to allow residents back into their apartments before the end of the day.