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Fire causes $90K damage to downtown Tampa hotel

Published Jun. 11, 2013

TAMPA — A fire that started before noon Monday in an empty room at the downtown Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel was soon extinguished, causing $90,000 in damages.

The three-alarm blaze brought 78 responders in 21 vehicles to the hotel at 111 W Fortune St., near the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

"Because it was a high-rise, it was labor-intensive," Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Capt. Lonnie Benniefield said.

When firefighters arrived, evacuation of the building was under way and the hotel's sprinkler system had begun to suppress the fire.

There were no injuries.

Firefighters climbed the stairs to the 12th floor, where they found fire in two rooms. The floor was under renovation and unoccupied, Benniefield said.

The hotel has 332 rooms; 53 of which were rented at the time.

For the past four years, students from the University of Tampa have bunked at the hotel, about a mile from the growing campus.

The spring semester finished last month.

Investigator Mike Zurla, with the Tampa Fire Marshal's Office, traced the cause of the fire to an electrical malfunction in an air conditioner, Benniefield said.


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