Newington motel fire that hospitalized 6 now classified as arson

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NEWINGTON -- An early morning fire at a motel in Newington that sent six people to the hospital Tuesday morning is being classified as arson.

"Very fortunate that an officer spotted the fire and took action immediately," said Newington Fire Chief Chris Schroeder.

Schroeder said a Newington police officer was patrolling the area at around 4 a.m. Tuesday when he noticed smoke coming from the Grantmoor Motor Lodge.

"I notified the fire department we responded," said Schroeder. "He then went door to door alerting the residents of the fire."

Motel guests said the scene was chaotic as officials tried to notify everyone to get to safety. The building was evacuated.

"Kicking the doors, slamming, get out of your room, get out of your room, get away from the building," said Diane Fales, who was staying at the motel. "So I ran and grabbed my daughter... we came around the side, and that's when everybody you know the fire engines and police officers all started coming in and everyone's running around in panic."

That first responding officer, along with three other officers, a woman and a child all ended up being taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

"We didn't realize you know how bad it was in the front," said Fales. "It was scary, you know, because if we had gone to bed just a few minutes sooner... the way the smoke was pouring in, God forbid... you know everybody got out though, thank God."

All four Newington fire companies responded to the blaze while the task force including crews from Cromwell, Berlin, Wethersfield, and Rocky Hill covered the Newington area during that time.

"The fire was pretty much contained to the room of origin, and the crews knocked it down pretty quickly," said Schroeder.

The building inspector was called in to assess the property as the fire marshal looks to determine a cause. The chief said some structural issues have now come to light in the aftermath of the fire.

All rooms have their own individual smoke detectors, which the chief said will be inspected to make sure they were functioning properly. The fire destroyed at least one room and its contents.

"Just lucky that the police officer discovered the fire so quickly, and took immediate action," said Schroeder. "He did save some lives today."