Oily rags blamed for fire at Dallas Omni Hotel



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Posted on October 8, 2011 at 12:43 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 26 at 4:14 AM

DALLAS — We now know what caused a fire late Friday night at the nearly completed Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas.

Investigators said the blaze was started by the spontaneous combustion of oily rags. The rags had been used to stain a wood deck by the hotel's pool, but that material was not stored in a proper container.

When the rags ignited, it caused damage to concrete decking. There's no word yet on whether the contractors will face any fines or citations.

At least two dozen firefighters responded to fire after light smoke was seen rising from the pool deck on the fourth floor at around 11:15 p.m. The smoke could be seen and smelled on the northwest corner of the building adjacent to the WFAA-TV studios on Young Street.

A patio and pool extend from the hotel's gym on the fourth floor of the building where most of the activity was observed.

Firefighters, suited up in their gear and carrying axes, could be seen walking through the gym and out onto the pool deck.

Though no fire was visible from the street, Dallas Fire-Rescue made it a two-alarm response sending ladder trucks, fire engines, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles.

Firefighters connected to at least one hydrant on Young Street and charged hoses as others went upstairs.

Strobe smoke alarms were flashing on the first through the sixth floors but no sprinklers appeared to have been triggered in the emergency.

The new animated light display on the exterior of the building which showed the University of Texas and Oklahoma University logos for Saturday's football game was not interrupted as firefighters gathered below it.

Two D-FR arson investigators responded to the scene as well, which is routine when a second alarm is issued.

The $500 million Omni Hotel is scheduled to open next month.

E-mail: jwhitely@wfaa.com