LEBANON, N.H. (AP) — An explosion and fire in a hotel in New Hampshire sent two firefighters and eight guests to the hospital Tuesday, officials said.
None of the injuries suffered at the Element Hotel in Lebanon was life-threatening, officials said. But a firefighter with a broken arm and broken ribs was expected to spend Christmas in the hospital, Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Christopoulos told WMUR-TV.
He said the power of the explosion blew out an exterior wall, bent the elevator and destroyed fireproof hotel doors.
“I've been doing this for 37 and a half years and, by far, this has been the worst incident I've been involved in in my life," the chief said.
The explosion happened in the early morning hours, just after crews responding to a fire alarm entered the building, according to the New Hampshire Fire Marshal's office. Officials are still investigating the cause, but they do not believe it was criminal in nature.
"Based on some of the initial damage that we've seen, it looks like it may have been a gas incident," said state Fire Marshal Paul Parisi.
The five-story, 120-room hotel, which is part of the Marriott chain, suffered significant damage and will be closed for the foreseeable future. About 75 guests were moved to another hotel.
Dee Dee Douchen, a spokeswoman for the hotel's management company, Truth North Hotel Group, said she was pleased that all injuries appear to be minor and that guests — including a cat — were relocated quickly and efficiently.
“From top to bottom, people were taken care of,” she said.
"I'm glad they're going to be OK," he said. "In all honesty, that's the most important part of this whole thing. The building can be repaired, be fixed. I could care less about the building right now."