Fire still burning at old Hotel Reed Nursing Home

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Charred debris continues to smolder at the old Hotel Reed Nursing Home on the beachfront in Bay St. Louis. Consequently, investigators can't get inside to find clues that will determine what sparked the Christmas Eve fire.

The aftermath of the fire is creating problems for neighbors. Since early Saturday morning, firefighters have made five trips to the hotel.

"The way the wind is blowing right now. There are so many openings in the building, so it's constantly getting air flow through the building, rekindling the fire, making it flare back up," said Capt. Monty Strong, with the Bay St. Louis Fire Department.

Fire officials say the blaze started in the back of the building in what once was a laundry room and storage area. The building has been vacant since the late 90s and had no power, so officials have ruled out the possibility of an electrical cause.

"There's always the possibility somebody tried to make a fire to stay warm. I don't know, there are half a dozen possibilities," said Nona Morland.

Hotel Reed was built in 1923, it was later converted into a nursing home that closed in the 90s. Nona Morland has lived across the street from the old hotel for more than 10 years.

"My dad told me stories of when he was in the service walking across the train bridge and spending the night in the old hotel when it was really a hotel. It's kind of sad. I thought the rain would help put it out."

The fire has driven her out of her home.

"Since it's as smokey in there as it is, I have sinuses and stuff. We're in an RV over at Hollywood [Casino]," Morland said. "It's not worth staying in the house right now. Wait til I get the house cleaned up and that smoke smell out."

Fire investigators won't be able to get into the building until the fire has been extinguished.

"At the rate it's burning, it will probably keep burning for a few days," Morland said.

The state fire marshal has been called to assist in the Hotel Reed investigation. The fire ignited just two weeks after Bay St. Louis city leaders declared the historic building a public nuisance and ordered it torn down.

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