SUBLETTE COUNTY, Wyo. — Sublette County firefighters credit smoke detectors and an observant overnight guest for the quick extinguishing of a motel fire in Big Piney last weekend.
On Saturday, April 25 at 1:50 a.m., Sublette County Unified Fire was dispatched to a structure fire in an occupied room at the Big Piney Motel. Upon arrival, firefighting crews discovered a large amount of smoke and fire extinguishing agent coming from the open front door of one of the motel rooms. Firefighters and law enforcement officers worked with the motel manager to wake and notify additional occupied rooms and assist occupants to evacuate.
Firefighters initiated an interior attack and were able to prevent the spread of fire past the origin in the bathroom ceiling area of the motel room. There were no reported injuries during the incident and no other structures were involved. The American Red Cross was activated to assist the motel occupants as necessary. The origin of the fire was determined to be in the ceiling in the area of the bathroom ventilation fan. The fire has been classified as accidental in nature.
The occupant of the involved room explained he was abruptly awakened by the smoke detector alarming. He described to firefighters that he initially thought the smoke detector was the morning alarm clock going off. He said that he tried to turn the light on in the bathroom when the bathroom light fixture fell from the ceiling and he discovered the fire and smoke coming from the hole in the ceiling. The occupant grabbed one of the fire extinguishers mounted outside the motel room and used it to spray extinguishing agent into the burning bathroom ceiling.
It is important to note that the quick actions of the occupant, along with the quick response and suppression from the fire department helped minimize the damage from the fire. However, there were many additional factors that also contributed to the minimal property damage and lack of injuries or fatalities. One of the most important factors was the presence of a working smoke detector. If the smoke detector had not alarmed and alerted the occupant, the outcome may have been very different. Building construction also played a key role. The construction materials and design helped minimize the spread of the fire.
The coordinated response effort from Sublette County Unified Fire, along with Sublette County Sheriff’s Office, Sublette County EMS, 911 Dispatch, and American Red Cross, working together with the motel manager, occupants from the motel, and local community members to safely resolve the emergency illustrate the importance of community preparedness.