A Buckhead hotel was evacuated after a large fire broke out in an adjacent parking deck early Monday morning.

Atlanta fire officials said a vehicle caught on fire on the second floor of the deck next to the Homewood Suites by Hilton on Pharr Road around 4:30 a.m. It then spread to another vehicle before igniting a pile of construction debris, fire Battalion Chief Ronald Slatton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The fire was extinguished quickly and contained to the parking deck, Slatton said. No injuries were reported, but two people were evaluated for difficulty breathing. About 64 guests were evacuated, not counting staff members who also left the building as a precaution.

“It definitely looked worse than what it was,” Slatton said.

One of the displaced guests was Brian Graham, who has been staying at the hotel with his 75-year-old aunt since a tree fell on his house a month ago. He said that around 4 a.m., he heard a commotion and then a boom.

“I heard people yelling, ‘Fire, fire!’ So I got up, got dressed. I looked out the window. I didn’t see anything, and I opened the door to see if I see any smoke,” he said.

There was a faint smell of smoke, and that’s when police ran down the hallways and banged on doors telling everyone to get out, he said. He rushed to help his aunt, who had just had a hip replacement.

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

Graham’s aunt was the only person who was taken to a hospital. Fire officials said they were concerned about her standing for a prolonged time not long after her surgery.

“Hopefully my car’s not destroyed,” Graham said as he waited to go back inside. “That’ll be the next thing I got to tackle.”

Guest Aliyah Sall said officials weren’t letting people check on their cars “because they’re still moving debris and stuff.” She had just been in the garage not long before the fire broke out, she said.

“We were sitting in the garage talking to a friend, and then I went upstairs, went to sleep and then woke up about 30 to 45 minutes later to hear all the commotion outside,” she said. “We come outside and we see the flames ... it was just a really big fire ... then we walked back in to kind of just a mess.”

While the fire did not extend to the building, Sall said the entire first and second floors had water damage and the roof was leaking. She was working to get her booking transferred to another hotel.

“It’s just kind of a real messed up situation right now,” she said.

Firefighters worked throughout the morning to put out hot spots in the garage as guests gathered on the sidewalks awaiting the green light to go back inside. By midmorning, hotel officials said they were still figuring out where to move guests as repairs are made to damaged areas.

The cause of the fire was not clear. Officials said it remains under investigation.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.

About the Authors