KISSIMMEE, Fla. - It was quite the scene Sunday night when an Orlando-area motel caught fire and spread throughout the 430-room building. The fire burned all night long and fire crews continued to put out hot spots Monday afternoon.
More than 150 people were inside the Vacation Lodge in Kissimmee when the fire started around 10:30, but everyone made it out safely. The Osceola County Fire Department reports that eight people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, including two firefighters.
In recent years, the motel has turned into more of an extended-stay facility. Most of the people who stay there, live there.
Richard Lannen was watching television when his dog alerted him of the commotion in the hallway.
"I opened the door and saw people running toward the front," he said. "Only got time to put on some pants, shoes, and shirt, and get my wallet and him out."
Lannen is one of about 100 who went to the American Red Cross shelter set up at Celebration High School nearby. Emotions were high as people still tried to wrap their head around what just happened.
"The place was literally hell," said Micheal White, who learned of the fire when someone banged on his door late Sunday night.
"We have a fire alarm in the room but it didn't go off," he said.
White and others displaced by the fire voiced their frustrations over a situation they say should have been prevented. Some claimed the motel did not have a sprinkler system in place.
Sabrina Thompson says she learned of the fire when she heard people yelling down the hall. The problems she says she discovered were with the fire extinguishers.
"They weren't doing anything. They were sending out green smoke," she said. "I've literally lost everything. I stood there and watched my room fall to the ground last night."
As of late Monday there was still no word on what caused the fire. Deputy Fire Chief Danny McAvoy said investigators will be out Tuesday to start searching for a cause and origin.
When asked about the claims made by the people who lived at the motel, McAvoy said there were at least some alarms going off when fire crews arrived Sunday night. He did not know about the fire extinguishers or a sprinkler system. Firefighters still had not made entry into the motel.
McAvoy said the building's old age contributed to how fast the flames spread.
Efforts to reach the owner of Vacation Lodge were unsuccessful.
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