A fire that left a major portion of the Best Western Trail Dust in ashes early Saturday morning has resulted in the death of a woman thought to be from the Tyler area, according to Assistant Fire Marshal Eric Hill.
Hill confirmed a woman who was carried from the burning building by firefighters died in a Dallas hospital after being flown there early Saturday morning.
“We did talk to her husband this morning, and she did pass away over the weekend,” Hill said. “She was from somewhere down in the Lindale-Tyler area.”
The fire, which started just before 2 a.m. Saturday in the west wing of the hotel, stretched the resources of the city's fire department, according to the assistant fire marshal.
“For a small department, it was a nightmare,” he said. “And a nightmare that was compounded by a full weekend.”
He estimated as many as 58 people were staying in the section of the hotel that burned. As the fire tried to spread through the eaves to other buildings, more than 150 people were evacuated.
The hotel was booked to capacity by fishermen participating in a tournament on Lake Fork and visitors in for the start of the Dairy Festival and high school graduations.
The assistant fire marshal said help from Hopkins County Fire Department, Cumby and Brinker volunteer fire departments, along with police officers, sheriff's deputies and emergency medical services, was invaluable.
“We show up with four or five guys and lose three immediately to operate our trucks. We rely greatly on our police department and our sheriff's department and our county units,” he said. “Police and sheriff's deputies were a big help in evacuating. It was a huge effort on a lot of people's part.”
Hill said there were no other injuries.
“We count our blessings,” he said. “In attempting to try to rescue her, and with everybody else's help, there were no other injuries.”
During rescue efforts, Hill said contact was lost with the firefighters in the burning structure.
“We knew it was pretty bad and we lost all radio communications with them. We started sounding horns to let them know to back out, that we could no longer talk to them,” he said. “It was a hairy couple of minutes, then all of a sudden, they showed back up coming out the door.”
Hill said it was a difficult fire to fight and very dangerous.
“it was a hard one for us to handle — it was overwhelming,” he said.
Investigators have been working since Saturday to determine the cause of the fatal fire.
“As of right now, they are finishing up on the investigation, they have pinpointed it down to a certain motel room and the area that it started,” Hill said. “We do feel like it was accidental, but we are still doing some investigation. We've confiscates some computer equipment and stuff to get videos, but we won't be able to get that done until Wednesday.”
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