By Anita Oh
VINELAND, NJ (CBS) — “It didn’t look that bad at first and then all of a sudden the whole roof is on fire – and it’s just done,” said Candace Martinez, a guest staying in the Ramada Inn in Vineland.
Firefighters battled a two-alarm blaze at the inn on the 2200 block of West Landis Avenue around 2 a.m. Friday morning.
Martinez says what was supposed to be a fun night out turned into a nightmare.
“We went to the store, were gone about 20 minutes and came back. There were flames coming from the top, right above our room. Our whole room is done. It’s burnt, and everything I own is in there,” she said.
Fire officials say the massive two-alarm fire took more than two and a half hours to get under control and displaced 28 guests, including Gloria Godbread of Jacksonville, Florida.
“All I heard was banging. I jumped up saw the smoke everywhere and got out. We didn’t even have time to grab stuff,” Godbread, who was staying at the inn with two daughters and a grandchild, told Eyewitness News.
The displaced guests were reimbursed and many moved to neighboring hotels.
Guests commended one Vineland police officer, who is now under observation for smoke inhalation.
He reportedly started banging on doors trying to get everyone to safety.
“We had occupants attempting to jump from second floor units,” said Vineland Fire Chief Robert Pagnini. “They were hanging out the window, throwing their belongings out the window. Our crews took ground ladders and helped them over and down to the ground.”
While it’s not clear what sparked the blaze, Pagnini says it appears the fire started in a room on the second floor. The woman who was staying there is now recovering from burns at Crozer Chester Medical Center.
“It basically ran from the back of the building all the way up to the firewall about 6 units up,” Pagnini added.
Fire officials say this does not appear to be suspicious and it also does not appear to be an electrical fire.
The cause is still under investigation.
In the meantime, management at the Vineland Ramada Inn says all events planned for the weekend, including a wedding and bridal expo, will continue as scheduled.