Ten Hurt in Massive Blaze at Luxury Eilat Hotel

Fire burns Orchid Hotel's presidential villa to the ground; firefighting teams extinguish fire.

Firefighting teams extinguished a massive blaze that left 10 people injured at the Orchid Hotel in Eilat on Thursday.

Among the injured were nine hotel employees, four of which were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, and a fire fighter.

The fire erupted in the bushes adjacent to the luxurious presidential suite and spread to the surrounding woods. The hotel staff, headed by the owner of the Orchid, who was staying at the hotel at the time, declared the event an emergency and made efforts to put out the blaze.

Fire fighters arrived 7 minutes after receiving the call and connected their hoses to the hotel pool. Simultaneously, eight fire fighters jumped into burning huts and the ceilings collapsed on them.

A source said that an investigation would be launched and that "we were lucky for the small number of injuries, seeing as the hotel is made of wood. We would have had a big problem if the fire had spread to other huts. The firefighting station remained empty for an hour during the fire and was able to attend to two other events simultaneously."

Witnesses present at the scene said that some 30 guests were staying at the presidential suite, all revelers at a local party. The fire erupted in the bushes outside the suite. The villa and the surrounding foliage were burned to the ground. Several of the hotel guests were taken into police custody for questioning.

The deputy commander of the Eilat police force said that all the hotel guests were evacuated from their rooms. Witnesses reported that a long time elapsed until rescue teams arrived at the scene. Due to the commotion, some of the vacationers were evacuated without their belongings, some of them only half dressed.

The hotel employees were treated at the scene by Magen David Adom emergency medical technicians and four of them were then taken to Yoseftal hospital in Eilat.

Yoseftal Hospital Director Professor Yohanan Feizer said that "the four are being treated in the emergency room of the hospital. If the number of victims should rise, the hospital is prepared to treat a large number of casualties within minutes."

The Orchid Hotel is modeled after a Thai village, on the southern beach. It is isolated and comprises individual wooden huts going up on the side of the mountain.