Guests of the Grand Pequot Tower at Foxwoods Resort Casino were evacuated on Monday after a small fire on a 21st balcony.
The flames started on the balcony of a lounge, causing light smoke to pour into an area of the lounge that was unoccupied at the time and a smoke detector went off around 10:53 a.m., Mashantucket Pequot Fire Chief Jon Marr said.
Marr said it took his crews about 10 minutes to extinguish the fire that only caused minimal damage. The entire hotel was evacuated to the lobby.
Wellingthon Hoepelman was at the spa in the Grand Pequot Tower for his wife’s birthday celebration at the time.
"We were kind of frantic. Everyone started running and the elevators were shut down, so we had to go up through the staircase. That was a little bit scary,” Hoepelman said.
Down in the lobby, people were trying to figure out what was happening.
"It was very tense. Very tense. A lot of people were confused. They didn’t know what was going on," Hoepelman said.
Mashantucket Pequot firefighters train regularly to work a building as tall as the Grand Pequot Tower.
"We train with high-rise training and we use standpipes to get water to upper floors. We bring the hose to upper floors and connect to a water source that’s in the hallway," Marr said.
Crews also used thermal imaging to scan inside the walls to see if the fire spread between floors, Marr said.
With a building this large it’s protocol to have mutual aid called, according to Marr. Mohegan Tribal, North Stonington, Ledyard, Gales Ferry and Norwich fire crews all responded to assist.
No one was injured. Investigators are still looking into a cause of the fire.
Hoepelman said he’s grateful for the quick response.
"It kind of ruined our plans a little bit, but thank God we’re all safe and everything seems to be good here," he said.