BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – A firefighter was injured and millions of dollars in damage was caused as a fire broke out in the Buffalo Grand Hotel ballroom early Thursday morning.
“You just see copious amounts of black and gray,” said Harry Stinson, the owner of the building. “Lots of water on the ground. It’s heartbreaking to go because I know what it was like a day ago.
Buffalo Fire Marshal William Renaldo said a police officer noticed smoke coming from the complex, formerly known as the Adams Mark Hotel, around 1 a.m. Thursday. When the fire crews arrived, they eventually found the fire in the banquet area, which is on the opposite side of the building from the hotel rooms.
“Logistically there were a lot of challenges due to the distance between the front of the hotel and where the fire actually was,” Renaldo said.
“At the moment we are trying to determine where the origin of the fire was, whether it was the kitchen and spread to the banquet hall or vice versa,” added the fire marshal. .
Firefighters estimate there is $ 3 million in damage. A firefighter was injured during the response, Renaldo said, but was able to remain on duty.
The hotel has 486 rooms. But Renaldo said there were only 40 or 50 guests at the time of the fire. They were evacuated for a short time. On Thursday afternoon, Stinson said the hotel was empty even though the hotel rooms themselves were dry and functional. He was unable to say when the hotel will resume operations.
“The only chance is it didn’t happen in June,” Stinson said. “This is when hotel rooms are needed in Buffalo. January, February and March are quite cold and lonely anyway.
Stinson added that he would try to make the ballroom fully functional by April or May. It was being renovated when the fire broke out.
“We just finished it,” Stinson said. “This is the most heartbreaking part. It was quite spectacular. Now everything is black. The ceilings are lowered. There are inches of water from sprinklers and firefighters. There are melted walls. It’s just a mess up there.
The incident also occurs while the hotel was in the process of rebranding. Stinson says that at 9 p.m. Wednesday, he signed papers to join the Ramada by Wyndham network.
Wyndham spokespersons did not immediately respond to the request for comment.
Fire inspectors were on site all day Thursday to investigate the blaze. A cause has not yet been determined. Renaldo said a K9 unit was on the scene looking for an accelerator. Around noon, the firefighters were called a second time to the hotel. The fire marshal said it was to deal with the hot spots discovered.
“For a fire of this size, there is a lot of potential for a hidden fire,” Renaldo said. “So yes, it does happen for larger fires.”
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning journalist who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.