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Red Jacket Resort Fire Investigation Could Take Weeks: Here's What We Know

Fire officials said Sunday there were not sprinklers in the wing that was destroyed by the fire at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire

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A massive fire Saturday left several people injured and destroyed large portions of the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort, a popular vacation spot near New Hampshire's White Mountains.

On Tuesday, the investigation remained active and ongoing, with officials from the State Fire Marshal's Office saying the work will continue for several weeks. The scene examination portion of the investigation was completed Sunday. Now investigators will focus on interviews with guests and witnesses, and try to put together a timeline and to determine how the fire alarm system worked during the blaze.

Smoke and flames could be seen coming out of rooms on the second and third floors of the hotel, according to videos shared online. People were also seen jumping from third-story balconies to escape the flames.

Two firefighters and two civilians suffered minor injuries, officials said Monday.

There were initially reports that there were children trapped in the building, the North Conway Fire Department chief said, however those turned out to be inaccurate. The fire chief added that he was very relieved when he learned all of the guests had been accounted for.

Fire officials said Sunday there were not sprinklers in the wing where the blaze started. On Tuesday fire officials noted that automatic sprinkler systems are not required in existing hotels that are not considered high-rises.

Here's everything we know about the fire and the investigation into its cause:

What is the Red Jacket Inn?

The resort is a family retreat in New Hampshire’s White Mountains and is home to Kahuna Laguna, a popular indoor water park.

When did the fire start?

According to the fire marshal's office, the Department of Safety’s Division of Emergency Services and Communications received a 911 call reporting the fire at 2:47 p.m.

The first crews on scene encountered heavy fire and smoke pouring from the third floor in the south wing of the building where guests were evacuating.

At one point, some guests could be seen jumping from upper-level to lower-level balconies before safely escaping at the ground level, the fire marshal's office said. All guests were accounted for.

Firefighters from more than 20 area communities helped battle the large blaze. Strong wind gusts made it a challenging fire for crews.

"The fire was aggressive," officials said at a press conference, noting the winds forced them to battle the blaze from the exterior.

There appeared to be heavy damage to at least part of the hotel, with some hotel rooms completely charred from the outside.

Photos: Massive Fire Burning at Popular Red Jacket Resort in North Conway, NH

How many people were injured in the Red Jacket fire?

Two firefighters and two civilians were injured in the fire, fire officials confirmed on Monday.

All three were treated for non-life threatening injuries, and taken to Memorial Hospital in North Conway as a precaution.

Officials said the two firefighters were treated for heat-related exhaustion, and the other person was experiencing shortness of breath.

The fire chief said another person was having a diabetic problem because her medicine was inside the hotel where the fire was raging.

There were 150 people staying at the hotel at the time of the fire.

Smoke from the Red Jacket seen from miles away

Aerial footage from NBC10 Boston’s SkyRanger helicopter and videos posted on Twitter showed flames shooting through the building's roof, and thick black smoke could be seen billowing into the sky from miles away.

At 2 a.m., crews brought in an excavator to work the fire, trying to move heavy steel and debris in order to extinguish the hot spots and prevent its ability to spread any more.

Were there sprinklers at the Red Jacket hotel?

There were not sprinklers in the section of the hotel where the fire started, the fire chief said, as that part of the building was built prior to sprinkler requirements.

The fire marshal said some areas of the resort have more sophisticated systems because of when the building was developed and renovated. Though not required, the Office of the State Fire Marshal does urge property owners to consider adding automatic sprinkler systems as part of capital projects.

The hotel was outfitted with appropriate smoke alarms and a heat detector system, including hardwired smoke alarms with battery backups in each guest room. Those alarms are meant to sound only in individual guest rooms, while a separate heat detector system is meant to set off the building fire alarm system when necessary.

The smoke detectors were working, the fire chief added.

Red Jacket issues statement

The resort confirmed in a statement to NBC10 Boston that a fire broke out on the property Saturday afternoon, noting that the North Conway Fire Department and area partners worked to extinguish the flames.

"Guest safety remains our utmost focus as we continue to work closely with emergency responders," a spokesperson for the resort said.

Those who were staying at the Red Jacket were offered hospitality at other nearby resorts. There were 155 guests in the hotel at the time of the fire, according to the fire chief.

Justin Grimes, the managing director of Red Jacket, spoke alongside fire officials at a press conference on Sunday, saying, "Yesterday we experienced a really unfortunate event at Red Jacket Mountain View, which is very beloved to us. But frankly it's thanks to the North Conway Fire Department and so many local first responders, the heroic efforts of them that allowed the fire in the south wing to be contained and ultimately extinguished before spreading further."

Two firefighters and one other person were injured in the blaze, the state fire marshal's office said. They are expected to be okay.

Is the Red Jacket hotel closed?

Yes. There is a closure announcement posted to the hotel's website that says both the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort and Kahuna Laguna Waterpark are currently closed.

Structurally the building is sound but there is heavy water and smoke damage, the fire chief said Sunday. Additionally, the south wing was torn down due to the damage in the area where the fire started.

The Red Jacket's managing director confirmed the hotel is closed in the interest of safety, adding that its exact reopening date is not known at this time.

"For us, guest safety, and our staff safety is our priority. As such, the hotel will remain closed for the foreseeable future," Grimes said. "We're working with our guests and our staff to ensure their needs are met. A reopening date will be announced further."

Grimes said they are in the process of connecting with future guests. According to the website's closure notice, anyone with an existing reservation that will be affected (currently through May 31) will be contacted soon. However, you can also speak with a property representative by calling 844-834-5610.

"We'll share those updates with you as soon as we have them," Grimes said of reopening plans.

When asked if staff members will be out of a job in the meantime, Grimes said they working actively with the Red Jacket team "to understand that better."

Local business owners, residents devastated

A woman who lives two doors down from the inn told NBC10 Boston she saw people outside crying with their kids.

"It's just devastating. I mean, so sad," said Linda Barbic, a bed and breakfast owner in the area. "It's just roaring in flames. It's just horrific. The east end of the building of the Red Jacket, it looks like fire departments came from all towns, everywhere, and they're trying to contain it, so it doesn't hit the main building, but it's sad, it doesn't look like that's gonna be possible."

"I mean, it's up in flames. It's horrific. It's devastating," she reiterated. "I just have the chills. I just feel so sad. The flames are coming out of the windows, and the roofs are caving in. It's just horrible. It's a horrible sight."

According to the Red Jacket's managing director, community members have really stepped up and assisted hotel guests in the aftermath of the fire.

"I must say, we're truly humbled, truly humbled by the spirit of giving in this community. Hotels and rental owners have come to the aid of our guests and our staff and fellow community members by providing them with a place to stay, a warm meal, clothing, and some of the other essential items that we take for granted. Church groups even showed up with food and clothes and other items. Residents sent in items, as well," Grimes said.

"And to our staff, who are rooted in this community, it means so much," he added. "Truly you can't imagine what it means to us and to our team here at Red Jacket, and I just want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

The community has pledged a resilient recovery. The Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce said they are predicting a strong start to the summer season, despite the loss of a landmark property.

What is the cause of the Red Jacket fire?

The New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire, New Hampshire Department of Safety spokesperson Tyler Dumont said Saturday.

The investigation is active and ongoing, the fire marshal said. Investigators are still working to determine the cause and origin of the fire. Due to the extensive damage, the fire marshal said that witness statements from hotel guests are going to play a huge part in the investigation.

"We'll chase down all the leads as we get them," he said, adding any little tidbit of information could be helpful.

As of Tuesday, a specific cause had not yet been determined.

When asked if the fire was suspicious, the fire marshal said there are "no criminal indicators at this time."

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Office of the State Fire Marshal at 603-223-4289.

Grimes said the Red Jacket is working with the North Conway Fire Department to assist in their investigation.

"At this point, we're not going to comment any further on the investigation," he added.

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