Blaze forces closure of Jamaica hotel

Passersby look at smoke billowing from the Wyndham hotel yesterday.
Passersby look at smoke billowing from the Wyndham hotel yesterday.

KINGSTON — The Wyndham Kingston Hotel was forced shut yesterday after a pre-dawn fire damaged critical sections of the 303-room property in the heart Two of the approximately 70 firefighters who battled the blaze for more than six hours suffered first-degree burns and were treated at hospital.

Last night, the Jamaica Observer learnt that the hotel was running at about 70 per cent occupancy when the tragedy occurred. However, none of the guests – who occupied approximately 240 rooms – or employees were hurt.

The blaze resulted in guests being transferred to other hotels in Kingston. Some of the Wyndham’s approximately 300 workers will be on duty today in order to make alternative arrangements for pre-booked clients. However, the hotel’s owners were unable to say when the seven-and-a-half-acre property would resume full operations as they have to await damage assessment from their insurers.

The fire, which began in the kitchen shortly after midnight, damaged two restaurants, the banquet area, the ballroom, general storeroom, general accounting department, the engineering plant room, and the laundry, a representative of the Jamaica Fire Department said.

Firefighters used seven units from the Kingston, Half-Way-Tree, York Park, and Spanish Town fire stations to bring the blaze under control by mid-morning yesterday.

Police closed several streets in the busy financial hub, causing gridlock as motorists in morning peak hour traffic were forced to find alternative routes to their destinations.

The area was still cordoned off and guarded by police up to 5 p.m. yesterday.

Thick black smoke billowing from the landmark building could be seen from as far as Cross Roads.

“It was one of the largest operations the fire department has carried out since the start of the year,” said Emilio Ebanks, communication officer of the Jamaica fire Department. (Observer)

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