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Motel sues GTE over fire

The owners of a downtown Clearwater motel and its insurance company are suing GTE, alleging that the company's employees were negligent and caused a fire in the motel last year. On Feb. 9, 1989, a fire started in a door to a telephone room of the Travelodge motel at 711 Cleveland St., according to the Clearwater Fire Department.

Although inspectors were able to find where the fire started, they were not able to determine its cause, according to a Fire Department report.

Just before the fire started, GTE workers had been on the premises, repairing the telephone system, the lawsuit said.

GTE conducted its own investigation into the fire, said spokeswoman Jan Morris.

"We contend that our people were not at fault," she said.

The fire caused $106,995.59 in damage to the motel, according to the lawsuit. The motel was insured, but there was a $100,000 deductible assessed to Forte Hotels International, which owns the motel, and another $250 deductible paid by Travelodge, the lawsuit said.