Investigators have confirmed that a car hit a gas meter, triggering an explosion last month that caused part of the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Beaumont Center to collapse.
But fire investigators were not able to determine the ignition source that sparked the explosion, according to an investigative summary released Tuesday.
No one was seriously injured in the explosion or the collapse of the hotel. The city condemned the hotel hours after the explosion because of extensive damage.
The investigative report says firefighters went to the Fairfield Inn at 6:15 p.m. Sept. 7, a Sunday, in response to a private alarm. They arrived three minutes later and helped hotel management evacuate the building.
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The report says the driver of a 2014 Kia Soul was trying to park on the west side of the hotel when the vehicle suddenly accelerated. The vehicle hopped the concrete curb and crossed the sidewalk, eventually crashing into the hotel's natural gas meter.
Investigators determined that the meter had been sheared off below the valve. The leak couldn't be stopped because of the damage. Columbia Gas Co. stopped the leak, the report said.
Firefighters isolated the hotel and surrounding area by keeping bystanders and guests at a safe distance. Four minutes after firefighters arrived, a large section of the hotel exploded, causing catastrophic damage to the building.
More than half of the building appeared to be intact. However, the portion that exploded resembled a bombed-out wartime target.
Parts of three floors sustained heavy damage.