Dec. 25--The Comfort Suites hotel in south Bethlehem was evacuated Wednesday afternoon when a hidden fire in an industrial clothes dryer filled the laundry room and a hallway with smoke.
Fire Lt. John Vargo said a hotel maintenance man called the Fire Department about 3:40 p.m. when he smelled the smoke but could not pinpoint its origin.
"When we got there, it smelled," Vargo said. "The smoke started coming out in the hallway. We pulled the alarm ourselves to get the building evacuated."
The hotel at 120 W. Third St., just north of Lehigh University, had only a few guests in their rooms, and a few more were registering at the front desk, when the alarm went off, he said.
The guests were allowed to return at 4:30 p.m. after firefighters isolated the dryer, cut power to it and set up a big fan to ventilate the affected floor.
Vargo said firefighters first had to determine where the smoke was coming from. They ruled out an elevator and a heating unit before they checked the dryer, which was plugged in but turned off.
"It wasn't being used at all today," he said. "We had them try to operate it and it wouldn't work. The dryer was cold, but something was burning up inside. It was one of those strange ones."
No one was injured.
At about the same time as the Comfort Suites call, other Bethlehem firefighters were sent to check out a smoky smell in Christmas City Printing at 861 14th Ave.
Fire officials said a crack in a heat exchanger had slightly elevated the carbon monoxide level there, but the air cleared when one of two heating units was shut down.
-- Frank Warner
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