Fire forces hotel evacuation

The Radisson and Applebee’s were cleared as crews extinguished the fire.

Jim Hammerand

Officials responded Friday to a fire that started in the laundry room at the Radisson University Hotel in Stadium Village.

The blaze forced about 200 hotel guests and lunchtime customers at the attached Applebee’s to evacuate for about an hour as smoke filled the lobby and billowed from the north side of the building.

No one was injured in the fire, which started just before noon in a commercial-sized dryer filled with towels in the building’s basement, said Ben Riley, the hotel’s front-office manager.

Riley said he dialed 911 and tried to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher.

Minneapolis firefighters arrived and put out the fire with their own extinguishers, said 3rd District Battalion Chief Todd White. The fire remained a “first-alarm,” which means it didn’t require support beyond the first crews on the scene, in this case three pumper trucks, a ladder truck, a heavy-rescue unit, two fire chiefs and a salvage truck.

“The alarm systems did what they did, and the people were out of the building with no problems at all,” White said.

The fire department’s arson squad was investigating the fire to determine its exact origin, which White said was standard for all fires.

Andra Barry, a server at Applebee’s and a third-year interior design student, said the evacuation cost her about $50 in tips and that she would have to pick up an extra shift to make up for the loss.

“I had five open tables, and no one paid. Some people tipped us and said, ‘Don’t tell your manager,’ ” Barry said.

Radisson Operations Manager Chuck McGuire, who had tried to put out the fire with Riley, said all the hotel’s 300 rooms were booked Friday afternoon, and operations wouldn’t be affected by the fire.

“The staff at the hotel did a wonderful job handling the situation,” said McGuire, whose suit still smelled like smoke.