SWATARA TOWNSHIP — Saturday will end in disappointment for some Farm Show attendees when they return to their motel to find it shut down following a fire.
The good news is no one was injured in the fire that started around 1:30 p.m. at the Econo Lodge motel on Eisenhower Boulevard in Swatara Township.
Two people had to be rescued from their second floor room, and most if not all rooms sustained smoke and water damage, said John Weikle, a Swatara Township commissioner and head of the township’s emergency services committee.
Firefighters from more than a half-dozen companies put out the fire, which closed Eisenhower Boulevard in both directions.
Kenneth Evans of Philadelphia and his girlfriend, Marquita Cook, were sleeping in a second floor room.
Evans, a truck driver who had worked overnight, had been sleeping only a few hours when he woke up coughing around 1:30 p.m.
After he and Cook realized smoke was in their room, he opened the room’s door and saw the hallway filled with thick smoke.
After he broke a window and began grabbing belongings, he saw a ladder being positioned outside the window. Swatara Township firefighter Mike Ibberson then appeared at the window and helped them onto the ladder and to safety.
Later in the afternoon, Evans and Cook thanked Ibberson, and Evans said he hopes Ibberson receives recognition for the rescue.
Weikle said about 20 guests were registered at the motel, and all but Evans and Cook were away at the time of the fire. He said many of the guests had gone to the Farm Show.
Weikle they will be allowed to get belongings from their rooms and will be relocated to another motel.
Ibberson, who is also the township’s fire investigator, said the cause of the fire wasn’t known as of late Saturday afternoon.
Firefighters believe the fire started in a second floor room above the main entrance of the the two-story structure, located in the 400 block of Eisenhower Boulevard between Monro Muffler Brake Service and Dirty Dog’s Car Wash.