"Smoldering mattress" prompts evacuation at Beau Rivage

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS  (WLOX) - Dozens of hotel guests at Beau Rivage got an unexpected wake-up call Wednesday morning.

A small fire on the ninth floor prompted a partial evacuation of the casino resort hotel.

As emergency crews responded, startled guests gathered outside, many still wearing their night clothes.

Those evacuated heard a fire alarm, followed by an order to exit the high rise hotel.

"We have no idea what's going on. We heard only the, what do you call it, the automatic voice alarm system that rings in the room," said one evacuated guest. "[The automated voice] said to get out, take the stairs; don't take the elevator. Keep calm."

Evacuated guests gathered on the lawn and sidewalk area in front of the downtown resort.

Many had no idea why they were asked to exit. Others figured it may have been a drill, but some smelled the smoke on their way out.

Phyllis Horoszewski is from Georgia, visiting Biloxi with her sister.

"We just got a fire alarm, and we thought maybe it was an exercise or something. And they said, everybody evacuate the building. And as we're walking down the stairwell, ninth floor, we ran into a guy and you could smell the smoke. And he said it was billowing down the hall," she explained.

"I didn't have my coffee, so it's hard to think. Everybody did what they were supposed to do," said her sister.

Biloxi firefighters arrived quickly.

"We like to be here in under four minutes, so I imagine it was," said Fire Chief David Roberts.

"We got a call that there was a smoke alarm going off on the ninth floor. When we got here we found a mattress that was smoldering, small fire. We put it out, and it just smoked up the room and the corridor," said Chief Roberts.

A water line connection is located on each floor of the high rise hotel, designed to be used by firefighters.

This fire was so small, that water hook up wasn't needed.

"They used an extinguisher and some water from the bathroom to put it out, to minimize the damage," said the fire chief.

The early morning excitement was over in less than an hour.

The evacuation involved several floors of the hotel only. The casino gaming floor was not evacuated.

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