Authorities believe a gas leak and fire at Comfort Suites in Astoria on Monday night may have been started intentionally.
After meeting yesterday at the hotel on Lief Erikson Drive, fire personnel determined a mechanical failure was not the cause of the initial gas leak near a natural gas meter in the back of the building just before 9:30 p.m. The exact cause of the leak remains unknown.
“Right now, the concern is that a person intentionally tampered with the natural gas line causing the leak, which led to the fire,” Astoria Police Deputy Chief Eric Halverson said.
The leak started a fire that extended into the building. While the bulk of the fire burned outside, flames did reach the hotel’s laundry room. The inside part of the fire was extinguished after a water pipe burst and a ceiling sprinkler activated. Water from the pipe kept pumping into the hotel, though, causing several inches of water to flood the ground floor.
The fire prompted the hotel, which was at full capacity at the time, to evacuate dozens of guests from 75 rooms and find alternative lodging arrangements in Astoria and Warrenton. No injuries were reported.
Comfort Suites will remain closed for the rest of the week.
The Clatsop County Major Crimes team has joined the investigation and is seeking the public’s help. Anyone who saw someone in the area of the Astoria Riverwalk between Safeway and the East Mooring Basin Monday night is asked to call the Astoria Police Department at 503-325-4411.