Morning fire at Vista Motel under investigation

EAST LIVERPOOL – Several items inside a room at the Vista Motel, 721 Edwards Street were damaged Friday morning by a blaze still under investigation by the city fire department.

Although no arrests have been made, some people were interviewed by fire officials, and police arranged for a woman believed to be involved in the blaze to be admitted to East Liverpool City Hospital and evaluated for possible mental health issues.

According to assistant fire Chief Eric Croxall, a neighbor called 911 about 8:50 a.m. after seeing smoke coming from the motel, with the police department alerting the fire department.

As the four firefighters on duty reached the cloverleaf area of West Eighth Street, they could see heavy smoke coming from the motel and called a third alarm.

However, Croxall said, the radios which are currently being switched over to a new system malfunctioned and the third alarm was not heard, meaning no other firefighters were alerted.

The door to the motel room was locked when firefighters arrived, and Patrolman Jim Krawiec had to kick in the door as fire equipment was set up.

“Luckily, it was just one room and we were able to hit it quickly and knock it down,” Croxall said, saying the fire was brought under control in a couple minutes.

The blaze was confined to the single room, and a small amount of fire extended into a wall. Croxall reported the most severe damage to a window air conditioner and a bed.

Croxall did not declare the fire arson or suspicious as of Friday, saying, however, “Several things seemed out of place,” and saying the investigation is continuing, with additional people to be interviewed, including owner Vinu Patel.

He said the police department assisted in gathering evidence.

Shortly after the incident, police officers were asked to respond to the East Liverpool Motor Lodge where fire officials were interviewing a woman, who was then brought to the police station in handcuffs.

According to Chief John Lane, it appears the woman may have set the fire inside the room, walked to the cab company on West Sixth Street and asked to be taken to the Motor Lodge.

Although officers recognized the woman from past encounters, she gave a false name and saying unusual things. Her name was on prescription bottles found inside the room, where officers also reported money and a pinch-off baggy was found.

Due to her behavior, officers asked that she be evaluated at the hospital for 72 hours.

No one was injured in the blaze, and firefighters were on the scene about two hours.