UPDATED Crews battle 6-alarm blaze at Quarter House Hotel; two firefighters injured

Two New Orleans firefighters were injured Thursday night and are recovering after battling a six-alarm fire that broke out at a Chartres Street hotel, a spokesman said.

Both firefighters became separated from the crews inside the Quarter House hotel, with one becoming temporarily trapped, and suffered smoke inhalation while exiting the building as flames intensified, said New Orleans Fire spokesman Gregory Davis.

The firefighters were transported to a local hospital, but are expected to make full recoveries.

Firefighters responded to a 911 call for a one-alarm fire shortly before 8 p.m. at the Quarter House Resort hotel located at 129 Chartres Street, said NOFD Chief Chris Mickal.

The first crews arrived at 7:55 p.m. and called a second alarm, adding more firefighting resources, after finding the roof of the five-story hotel on fire.

Fire crews were making an interior attack inside the hotel when the fire became stronger, prompting the third alarm to be called at 8:19, with firefighters ordered out of the building, Davis said, adding that the two firefighters separated from their teams and one became trapped in a confined space.

Crews immediately searched for the trapped firefighters and found them, breaking a window as they ran out of air, Davis said.

The blaze was reported out-of-control just before 9:30 p.m. and was upgraded to six alarms at 11:13 p.m., indicating a serious fire that ultimately required more than 80 fire personnel from 27 NOFD units.

The fire was brought under control at 2 a.m., Davis said.

Additionally, Louisiana State Police; the New Orleans Homeland Security and Preparedness, Emergency Medical Services and Police Department responded to the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Davis said.

(Above photo credit: NOFD; gallery credit below: NOFD, first four pictures; Kevin Minsky, last four pictures.)

NOFD orders demolition of Hard Rock Hotel, adjacent structures

An order to demolish the Hard Rock Hotel and several historic buildings adjacent structures was issued Tuesday by New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell.

The order comes as the June 1 start of hurricane season approaches and amid public pressure towards city officials to take immediate action to retrieve two dead bodies still trapped inside the collapsed hotel.

The hotel’s upper floors collapsed on the morning of Oct. 12, killing three construction workers Jose Ponce Arreola, Quinnyon Wimberly and Anthony Magrette.

The bodies of Arreola and Wimberly have remain trapped inside the condemned structure for more than six months as the city and 1031 Canal St., the hotel’s developers, have deferred responsibility to each other for the demolition of the building.

Hard Rock Hotel New Orleans construction crane collapses, killing at least one person

“These orders were posted under the authority of our Superintendent with my support, clearing the way for the Hard Rock site to be demolished,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “We have issued a conditional permit which gives 1031 what they need to move forward.

“I do not want to take the families of the victims through any more obstacles to get this building taken down,” she said. “At the end of the day, the most important thing is to retrieve the remains of our people.”

An independent analysis submitted by the developers confirmed the need to demolish the adjacent structures at 1022 Iberville Street and 1019, 1027 and 1027 Canal streets in order to safely level the Hard Rock Hotel, according to city spokeswoman LaTonya Norton.

Applications to demolish the adjacent structures were filed by the developers for consideration before the Central Business District Historic District Landmarks Commission on Wednesday, but the applications were withdrawn due to McConnell’s order.

HDLC staff previously recommended the commission deny the demo applcations for the buildings located at 1019-1025 and 1027 Canal streets due to their historical significance, but the emergency order declared on the Hard Rock structure allows McConnell to override the commission’s decision.

The demolition plans call for the Hard Rock to be demolished piecemeal using cranes and the bodies could be retrieved in about 30 days, according to The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate.

“The proximity of the nearby historic structures, narrowness of Iberville Street and distance of the collapsed building from Burgundy Street require precise positioning of demolition cranes within the footprint of the four adjacent structures if the collapsed building is to be safety demolished,” McConnell wrote in his order.

“Should a major storm strike the city during the upcoming hurricane season, the risk of further collapse of the unsafe and unstable structure would be greatly exacerbated,” McConnell said.

Read the full order:

Portion of French Quarter building crumbles

A parapet wall in the 600 block of Toulouse Street partially collapsed on Saturday, dropping bricks from approximately three stories high onto the sidewalk. No injuries were reported. Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Fire Department.

A portion of a French Quarter building crumbled and dropped debris from three stories high onto the sidewalk in the 600 block of Toulouse Street on Saturday morning, according to the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD).

No injuries were reported.

NOLA Ready reported the collapse on Twitter at 10:45 a.m. The NOFD identified the portion of the building that broke apart as the parapet, or a wall at the edge of a roof.

The NOFD identified 627 Toulouse Street as the exact location of the collapse.

Police and fire personnel temporarily closed the 600 block of Toulouse Street for a brief period of time. City code inspectors are evaluating the building.

Sewage system cited as possible cause for Dec. 16 explosion on Dauphine

Officials cited methane gas as a cause for the Dec. 16 explosion near Dauphine and Toulouse streets, local media reported.

The explosion, which reportedly occurred at approximately 5 a.m. on Dec. 16, caused an audible “boom” and blew three manhole covers. A video posted to social media shows a car on fire after the explosion.

Terry Ebbert, New Orleans Director of Public Safety and Security, reportedly told WWLTV that fumes from waste somehow ignited and erupted with flames near Toulouse and Dauphine.

WWLTV reported that the State Fire Marshal’s office indicated a faulty Entergy electrical line may have caused the explosion.

Entergy, the New Orleans Fire and Police departments and EMS vehicles reportedly arrived on scene and closed the block to the public.

No injuries were reported.