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Fire Breaks Out at Unfinished Westin Hotel
 in the Village of Imagine, Orlando

By Bianca Prieto, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Oct. 26, 2007 - A two-alarm fire broke out Thursday evening in a high-rise building under construction on Universal Boulevard across from the Orange County Convention Center, forcing the evacuation of about 20 construction workers.

Nearly 50 Orange County firefighters were called to the Westin building in the 9400 block of Universal Boulevard about 6:45 p.m. after a construction crew working there called 911.

It took firefighters about 10 minutes to climb to the 10th floor to reach the fire, Battalion Chief Mike Wajda said. The fire was extinguished within 45 minutes. There were no injuries.

Investigators don't know what started the blaze.

Black soot marked the side of the building where smoke and flames shot out of the broken windows.

The fire was contained to one unfinished room, and power remained on in the building throughout the incident.

"Any time you deal with a fire that's in a high-rise building, especially one that's under construction, it's very difficult to know how much of the building's protection systems works," Wajda said of why a second alarm was called despite the fire's small size.

Investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office arrived at the scene Thursday night to try to determine a cause.

The high-rise is part of the Village of Imagine, a planned community that will host about 1,000 residences when it is completed. The first phase is expected to open in 2008.

Jim Leusner of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Bianca Prieto can be reached at bprieto@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5620.

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Copyright (c) 2007, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.

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