Hotel Fire Started by Resident Trying to Defrost Freezer with Candle
No one was injured in the unattended blaze, which was extinguished thanks to quick work by firefighters.
Investigators believe a one-alarm fire Tuesday morning at Jonathan's on the Oceanfront at 415 Ocean Blvd. in Hampton was caused by a resident attempting to defrost his freezer using a candle.
Hampton Fire Chief Chris Silver said the resident in a room on the second floor of the hotel's four-story, woodframe back building left the candle unattended inside a plastic freezer. Silver said the burn pattern within the melted freezer indicated it was the origin of the fire, which started at about 9:02 a.m. Tuesday.
The fire was contained to the resident's second story room, although Silver said there is extensive smoke and water damage to multiple stories of the building, which is 100 feet off Ocean Boulevard and isn't connected to the hotel's main building.
Residents and guests were evacuated from their rooms in the back building due to the damage, to which Silver said he couldn't attach a dollar figure as of Tuesday morning.
"The entire back building will probably be uninhabitable for quite some time," said Silver.
The hotel's front building wasn't affected by the fire and remains open. No one was injured during the fire, and everyone was able to exit the back building on their own accord, according to firefighters.
The alarm company alerted the Hampton Fire Department to the fire at 9:02 a.m. Tuesday, and Silver said "within minutes" the department started "receiving numerous calls" from residents reporting the fire.
Group 2 arrived on scene first and found there was smoke emanating out the back of the building and there was fire on the second floor, according to Silver.
Silver credited the building's sprinkler system with helping to contain the fire to the one room until firefighters could reach it. That was key, he said, since there is no access to the building from the road, meaning firefighters had to haul a large, 3-inch hose and multiple ground ladders about 100 feet in order to reach the second floor and fight the fire with smaller hand lines.
Deputy Fire Chief Jamie Ayotte said Group 2 "did a great job" Tuesday, particularly since hot temperatures made that heavy lifting more difficult.
"A sprinkler was set off in the room, and while it kept [the fire] in check, it didn't put it out by any means," said Ayotte. "That was done by the first-in crews."
The resident responsible for the fire won't be charged, according to Silver, because "it was accidental" and wasn't "intentional."
"It's unfortunate," he said. "It's one of those... people just don't think sometimes."
The south lanes of Ocean Boulevard were closed around Jonathan's Tuesday morning while crews were on scene fighting the fire and evaluating the damage.
The Hampton Police Department assisted on the scene, as did fire departments from Exeter and Seabrook. North Hampton, Portsmouth and Hampton Falls provided fire station coverage as a part of the first alarm mutual aid call, said Silver.