Cause of Hotel Ritual fire in Jacksonville ruled as electrical

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 10:51 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2022 at 11:43 AM CDT
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JACKSONVILLE, Texas (KLTV) - A fire that destroyed a Jacksonville hotel and injured five people Sunday is believed to have been caused by an electrical issue in the building’s basement.

Hotel Ritual is located at 540 El Paso Street in Jacksonville. Jacksonville firefighters responded to the fire at 1:06 p.m. Sunday.

“The days following have allowed the investigation into the area of origin and cause of the fire to occur,” a press release from the City of Jacksonville stated. “Due to evidence including fire patterns, witness and firefighter interviews, the Jacksonville Fire Marshal’s Office believes that the fire started in the basement of Hotel Ritual, due to an electrical issue.”

The press release also stated that fire officials have no reason to believe that the fire was intentionally started.

“We would also like to thank the public for their thoughts and prayers for our firefighters and those impacted by this incident,” the press release stated. “We are glad to report that the injured firefighters are recovering well and are expecting a full recovery.”

Earlier this week, the Jacksonville fire marshal stated the hotel was a complete loss.

Jacksonville Fire Marshal Jeremy Pate said they got a call about smoke in the basement from the housekeeper, who was able to get out.

“They initially entered into the ground floor and didn’t see any fire there, so they proceeded to try to get into the basement and as they were trying to do that, they could not get into the basement due to the heavy smoke in there,” Pate said.

Firefighters tried to chase the fire, which had gotten into the walls, and Pate said it began scaling upward to the second and third floors.

“Eventually, it started to collapse part of the second floor onto the ground floor,” he said. “At that point, we hollered for a mayday for everybody to get out, and we started attacking it from the perimeter.”

Firefighters from all shifts were called in, along with several from surrounding East Texas departments.

About two hours into their efforts on the hotel fire, Pate said a second, unrelated fire broke out across the street about one hundred yards away. Firefighters who were rehabbing ran to that home to start attacking it.

“That one appears to have started somehow in the back of the house, either on the porch or in the laundry room, and that’s the only portion that was burnt,” Pate said. “The porch was burnt and the laundry room, utility room, was burnt on that house before it was extinguished pretty quickly once our guys got there.”

One firefighter suffered major injuries, while two other firefighters and two bystanders also suffered injuries inthe fire at Hotel Ritual.

The outside of the hotel is still standing, but the top two floors are mostly collapsed. It is extremely dangerous.

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