Kilgore hotel destroyed by fire did not have sprinkler system

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 2:32 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2022 at 6:32 PM CDT

KILGORE, Texas (KLTV) -East Texas fire marshals are still working to determine what caused a fire that ravaged an East Texas hotel.

It was around eight Monday night that the Best Western in Kilgore erupted in flames, gutting most of the structure. But the fire exposes a curious problem that is not widely known.

“There is a process of elimination that we work through. We focus in on our area of origin,” says investigator Gregg County Fire Marshal Mark Moore.

Though everyone inside the Best Western made it out safely and no one injured, there are still questions to be answered.

“We’ve eliminated most of the causes in this fire that we can contribute to being an incendiary fire,” the fire marshal says.

Moore says the fire started in a second floor room on the west end of the hotel.

A working sprinkler system might have lessened the damage to the structure. But this hotel had no sprinkler system, as it was built in the 90′s, before codes were established.

“A lot of buildings built back in that era were not required to have an automatic sprinkler system. You can’t go back and retrofit a lot of these old buildings. It’s not economically feasible, it’s not structurally feasible. As they’re remodeled, those things are added,” Moore says.

The hotel is a total loss, and an economic loss for the city.

″The loss of the Best Western hotel is an economic setback for Kilgore and the tourism and hospitality market. But it also effects the local employment and the local jobs,” says Kilgore City Tourism Manager Ryan Polk.

Moore is working to eliminate variables as to what caused the blaze.

“Make sure we get all those answers to everyone in a timely manner,” he says.

Moore says it could be another few days of investigation before he can give a conclusive answer as to what caused the fire.

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