Travel Lodge fire leaves dozens in need of places to stay

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DECEMBER 31 – Tony and Felicia Gardner were looking for temporary accommodation Friday night following a fire at the Terre Haute Travel Lodge at 530 S. Third St. in Terre Haute.

City fire chief Bill Berry said the blaze was contained in one room and no one was injured.

“The cause is not inherently suspicious, but it is still under investigation,” he said.

Firefighters responded to the call at approximately 3:11 p.m.

“You could see the smoke when the first company arrived,” Berry said.

The fire department was on the scene for about two hours.

Berry said the Red Cross has been contacted to help the displaced.

The Gardners were among those waiting around 6:00 p.m. for assistance from the American Red Cross.

Felicia is 23 weeks pregnant and the couple were planning to stay at a motel for a few days. Tony has a job in town and they are waiting for permanent housing. “It’s stressful,” she said.

Although the fire was contained in one room, the property’s lights had to be turned off and guests had to find alternative accommodation.

When the fire started, “maintenance guys knocked on the door and said get out,” said Tony Gardner. The couple saw smoke coming from the cleaning/washing area in the corner.

Travel Lodge manager Arish Patel said the motel will be closed until at least Tuesday, with inspectors on site to “start from there.” He could not say how many people were affected.

“We cut everything off and everyone leaves,” he said. The guest had been refunded.

Also calling on the Red Cross for help was Teresa Harvey, who was carrying Hades the dog. Another dog was still in the room. She said she has lived in a motel for about a year and a half.

She wasn’t in the room when the fire broke out.

“I’m completely shocked and a little scared of what’s going to happen from here.” there was no smoke pollution.

Standing beside her was Silvia Espinosa, who had lived in the motel for several years and had a room on the second floor.

“I’m still in shock,” Espinosa said. “I was worried about her (Herbie’s) dog because she wasn’t at her house.”

Espinosa was in his room when the fire started and many screams were heard. “I looked outside and all I could see was smoke,” she said.

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