|By Don Markus, The Baltimore
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 27, 2010 --One of the city's largest hotels was forced to evacuate some 900 guests Monday night after a water pipe burst in a stairwell.
According to a spokesman for the Fire Department and an official from the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, a standpipe in the stairwell between the fourth and fifth floors ruptured about 5:30 p.m. The standpipe is used to connect to a hose in case of a fire.
Fire Department spokesman Kevin Cartwright said that there were no injuries, and guests were allowed to use two working elevators to retrieve their belongings before being moved to other hotels in the city and surrounding area.
The hotel was at about 97 percent capacity, Cartwright said. There was no estimate for the cost of the damage. The scene outside the 32-story hotel, located at 700 Aliceanna St., was calm after the guests were evacuated. Six MTA buses were used to take the guests to other hotels.
"What's to be excited about?" Cartwright said. "These things happen."
The 4-inch pipe burst after a rubber coupling gave way, Cartwright said.
Cartwright added that there was "significant water damage" on the bottom four floors of the hotel, where the ballroom and many of the conference rooms are located, and in the lobby. All guest rooms are above where the pipe burst.
Dan O'Brien of Syracuse, N.Y., who was staying in the hotel while attending a mental health conference there organized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said that "water was just flooding down the escalators like a waterfall."
Rob McCullogh, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, said in a statement, "We have decided to evacuate to other hotels so that we may begin the cleanup from the flood." The decision was made after consultation with Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and the Fire Department.
McCullogh was not available for further comment.
The cleanup is expected to last into today.
"It's coming together even though it's a major inconvenience to people," Cartwright said.
Hotel officials worked with other hotels that are part of the Downtown Partnership to accommodate those who were displaced. Chenee Stone, a front desk associate at the Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites, across the street from the Marriott, said that the Hilton had been fully booked because of the conference and directed those looking for rooms to other accommodations in the city.
An associate at the Renaissance Harborplace who identified himself as Marquis said that the hotel had checked in "about 50" guests coming from the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront and more were waiting to get rooms.
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