An early morning fire at a downtown hotel left one woman in critical condition with burns to her body and put three others in hospital.

According to Kim Ayotte, Chief of Special Operations with the Ottawa Fire Service, the fire started around 8 a.m. on the second floor of the Radisson Hotel on Queen Street, but significant levels of smoke spread through the building.

All 105 guests at the hotel were evacuated and taken to the Delta Hotel across the street until they were allowed to retrieve their belongings.


Ottawa police told guests that they believe the fire was deliberately set, making the hotel a crime scene, and they were not allowed back into the building until officers had completed their investigation, which was not expected until this afternoon.

Many of the guests at the hotel were in town for the World Junior Hockey Championships, including a hockey team from China that was playing in the Bell Capital Cup.

Mike McDonald and Lindsay MacLaren, from Burlington, Ont., bought tickets to 17 of the games. The tickets were left in their second-floor hotel room after the pair climbed out the window to escape the fire.

“When we heard the alarm, we could feel the heat coming from the door and the hallway was full of thick black smoke,” said McDonald.

Since their window would only open a couple of inches, McDonald said they tried to smash it with one of the lamps, but the lamp ended up giving out first.

Fortunately, their neighbour, Francois Mayville, had managed to escape from his room onto the roof of the hotel restaurant by smashing a window with a chair. Mayville helped McDonald and MacLaren out, then smashed another window to help another guest out of her room.

From his location, Mayville said he had access to another room. He used his elbow to break that window, but the room was already filled with black smoke. He yelled inside but no one yelled back.

“The room was all black smoke,” he said. “It was impossible to get in. I didn’t know if someone was in there. Maybe I should have tried.”

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