Second Fire At Hotel Is Called Suspicious

Source: St. Petersburg Times
Date: October 19, 1989

Six months after evacuating 108 people from the Gray Moss Inn because of an arson fire, Clearwater firefighters returned to the hotel Wednesday evening to douse another suspicious fire.

"Some firefighters came to my door and told me someone threw something on the mattress and lit it on fire," said Keith Williams, a construction worker who has been staying at the hotel.

Deputy Fire Chief David Kinsey would not confirm that a small mattress fire on the fourth floor was deliberately set but said it looked suspicious.

"We'll be checking the hotel records to see if someone was staying here that was staying here before," Kinsey said.

The hotel at 215 S Fort Harrison Ave. is up for sale for $1.5-million, real estate agents said last month. The owners live in California.

It sits right across the street from the Fort Harrison Hotel, the international spiritual headquarters for the Church of Scientology.

Kinsey said a sprinkler system put out Wednesday's fire, then soaked much of the building. Kinsey and hotel residents said only a few people were staying there, and no one was injured.

The once stately hotel has been used as a low-cost residence in recent years, but few people have returned since a fire in April.

That fire started in an elevator shaft of the 91-year-old building. It caused between $50,000 and $100,000 in damage and displaced more than 100 low-income residents.

Kinsey said Wednesday evening he did not believe city officials would have to close down the hotel because of water damage as they did after the fire in April.

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