BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A firefighter was hurt and millions of dollars in damage was done as a fire broke out in the ballroom of the Buffalo Grand Hotel early Thursday morning.
“You just see large amounts of black and gray,” said Harry Stinson, the building’s owner. “A lot of water on the floor. It’s heartbreaking to go in there because I know what it was like a day ago.”
Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo said a police officer noticed smoke coming from the complex, which is formerly known as the Adams Mark Hotel, around 1 a.m. Thursday. When fire crews arrived, they eventually found the fire in the banquet area, which is on the opposite side of the building from the hotel rooms.
“Logistically, there were a lot of challenges because of the distance between the front of the hotel and where the fire was actually located,” Renaldo said.
“Right now we’re trying tying to determine where the origin of the fire was, whether it was the kitchen and spread to the banquet room or vice versa,” the fire commissioner added.
Fire crews estimate there is $3 million in damage. One firefighter was hurt while responding, Renaldo said but was able to stay on duty.
The hotel boasts 486 rooms. But Renaldo said there were only 40 or 50 guests at the time of the fire. They were evacuated for a short time. As of Thursday afternoon, Stinson said the hotel was empty even though the hotel rooms themselves were dry and functional. He was unable to say when the hotel will begin operating again.
“The only fortunate part is it didn’t happen in June,” Stinson said. “That’s when the hotel rooms are needed in Buffalo. January, February, and March are pretty cold and lonely anyway.”
Stinson added he would try to get the ballroom fully functional by April or May. It had been under renovation when the fire broke out.
“We just finished it,” Stinson said. “That’s the most heartbreaking part of it. It was quite spectacular. Now it’s basically all black. The ceilings are down. There are inches of water from the sprinklers and from the firemen. There are walls melted. It’s just a mess up there.”
The incident also comes as the hotel was going through a rebranding process. Stinson says at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, he signed paperwork to join the Ramada by Wyndham network.
Spokespeople for Wyndham did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Fire inspectors were on-site throughout the day Thursday investigating the blaze. A cause has not yet been determined. Renaldo said a K9 unit was on scene searching for accelerant. Around noon, firefighters were called to the hotel for a second time. The fire commissioner said it was to deal with hot spots that were discovered.
“For a fire this size, there’s a lot of potential for hidden fire,” Renaldo said. “So yes, it happens for larger fires.”
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.