Natchez hotel catches on fire

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Fire and smoke billowed out of the roof of Excellent Inn & Suites at 43 Seargent Prentiss Drive as the hotel caught fire at approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Adams County Emergency Management Community Liaison Officer Neifa Hardy, who was at the scene of the fire, said everyone in the building made it out safely and no injuries have been reported.

Hardy said the fire was under control at approximately 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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Larry Andrews said he was on his way from Vidalia to Natchez when he saw the smoke. He got out of his car to see what he could do to help, he said. His concern was getting people out of the hotel in time, he said.

“I started knocking on the doors,” Andrews said. “I was making sure that everybody was getting out. I tried to go to the (North) side of the building but the smoke was too powerful. Even with the masks on. I was just trying to make sure everybody was safe and I was safe myself.”

Alex Patel is the son of the hotel owner and was on the phone with his father giving him updates from the scene.

Patel said he was not sure how many people were in the hotel at the time of the fire but estimates the hotel is at 30% occupancy.

“All of the occupants of the building were safely evacuated,” Natchez Fire Chief Robert Arrington said. “We don’t have a definite cause (of the fire). We’ll have the fire investigator from the state here (Wednesday) to verify the cause of it. Most of the fire was in the roof and the attic. We only had one or two rooms that had heat damage and nothing else was damaged.”

Arrington said he believes the roof of the building is replaceable so it would not be a total loss.

“The building has a concrete flat roof. At some point in time, they put a pitched roof on it and it’s just the pitched roof that has been damaged. The flat roof underneath as far as we can tell doesn’t appear to be extremely damaged but we’d have to dig more to verify that.”

The City of Natchez recently granted Natchez Fire Department employees an 8 percent raise, Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said, adding the events on Tuesday further proved the raise is well deserved.

“We are greatly relieved that no one has been hurt. Our concern goes to the owners, managers and employees at this business and we hope that they will be able to recover, restore and reopen quickly,” Gibson said. “We have the best men and women in uniform. It was an honor today to be able to sign the documents granting (the firefighters) a well-deserved 8 percent pay raise. They truly are worth every penny and more.”