Quincy News

AUTOPSY: Woman died of smoke inhalation in Hotel Elkton fire

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 1, 2018 12:40 pm Updated: Jan. 1, 2018 2:56 pm

QUINCY — One person died and four were taken to Blessing Hospital early Monday morning after a fire of undetermined origin broke out in a room on the fourth floor of the Hotel Elkton.

Adams County Coroner Jim Keller said Laura A. Tournear, 50, was pronounced dead at the scene at 3 a.m. Monday.

Keller said Tuesday morning that an autopsy conducted Monday afternoon showed smoke inhalation as the cause of death.

Quincy Fire Department Assistant Chief James Pioch said the fire, which was reported at 1:36 a.m. at the hotel at Fourth and Jersey, started on a bed in a room occupied by Tournear on the south side of the building. He said firefighters have yet to determine the exact cause of the blaze because the area around the bed was so heavily damaged.

Quincy police Detective Sgt. Bryan Dusch said Tournear was found at the end of the fourth-floor hallway. He said legal smoking materials were found in the room where the fire first started.

“We're not considering foul play,” Dusch said. “We have to do a few more things before we can release a cause of the fire.”

Fire Chief Joe Henning said firefighters learned people were trapped inside the hotel en route to the scene, escalating it to a three-alarm fire.

“One person was rescued from a ladder and the other person was rescued from inside,” Henning said.

Bitterly cold temperatures complicated firefighting efforts.

“Our trucks froze and we had trouble getting our ladder up,” Henning said. “However, the fire itself wasn't very large, and it was put out easily.”

He said most of the fire damage was contained to the one room, but there was smoke damage throughout the building and water damage to several floors. He said other residents were evacuated.

The American Red Cross is assisting those who were displaced. Hotel residents are being temporarily housed at the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center. The Quality Inn and Suites also offered rooms for those displaced.

“We have about 30 people here from the Hotel Elkton,” Red Cross Disaster Workforce Engagement Manager Luke Zimmerman said. “They are receiving general health and mental health services.”

Henning doesn't believe residents will be displaced for long.

“Most of the rooms are habitable,” he said. “All that needs to be done is re-install the smoke detector system since it took some damage. After that, people can move back in.”

This is the second fire at the Hotel Elkton in a little more than three years.

A fire broke out late in the afternoon on Dec. 12, 2014, forcing at least 30 residents and the Patio restaurant's staff to flee the premises.

About seven residents were briefly stranded on the roof of the four-story structure before they were rescued by the Fire Department's aerial platform truck. Fire crews were able to get that blaze under control with an hour.

Everyone escaped safely from the building, although one resident was taken by ambulance to Blessing Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The Hotel Elkton dates to 1924 when it was originally known as the Elks Hotel.

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