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Smoky fire causes evacuation of Ocean House Hotel

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Westerly — An electrical malfunction in a power transformer caused a smoky fire Monday afternoon at the Ocean House Hotel and Resort in Watch Hill.

One person, an elderly man, was slightly injured in the process of evacuating.

According to Watch Hill Fire Department Chief Robert Peacock, firefighters responded to the hotel at 2 Bluff Ave. at approximately 12:50 p.m. following a fire alarm activation and a 911 call from the resort reporting smoke on the third floor.

The first Watch Hill firetruck arrived within two minutes of the call, the chief said in a press release, and reported that the building was being evacuated and that employees were reporting heavy smoke in the third-floor hallways. As a precaution, mutual aid was immediately requested from the Misquamicut and Westerly fire departments.

Peacock said the fire started in a transformer in the third floor electrical room, and that the fire was located and extinguished within minutes, with damage confined to the transformer and related electrical equipment.

According to the fire department, an elderly man fell while entering the Watch Hill Chapel, which is across the street from the Ocean House and serves as the designated safe haven area for the evacuated guests. He was treated on scene by firefighters and emergency medical technicians but refused to be transported by an ambulance. He was taken to a hospital in a private vehicle and treated for a laceration to the hand.

Guests were allowed back into the hotel within approximately 45 minutes after the smoke had been cleared from the room, halls and the surrounding areas, the release stated.

The fire chief credited the Ocean House staff, including the members of the hotel's emergency response team, for using their training to quickly and safely evacuate the guests. 

The total response included four engines and two ladder trucks with 28 firefighters, according to the release.


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