The fire alarm woke Francois Mayville in his second floor room at the Radisson Hotel around 8 a.m. Thursday morning.

Like most people, the Montreal resident had stayed up to ring in the new year and he wanted to sleep in a little.

But the heat in the room and smoke pouring in from under the door forced him to the hallway, where he was met with a wall of thick black smoke.

Mayville tried the window. It would only crack a few inches.

So he picked up a chair and tried to smash it. The chair bounced back.

“I thought, ‘Oh, no. I’m in trouble now, but I can’t stay in here. It has to break,’” Mayville said.

A second attempt sent the chair smashing through the window, allowing him to escape onto the roof of the hotel restaurant.

From that location, he could access three other rooms. Using the chair, he smashed the windows and helped three other people out of their rooms, including Mike McDonald and Lindsay MacLaren of Burlington.

“It was really bad in there,” said McDonald. “I was puking after we got out.”
At approximately 8:04 a.m. yesterday, police and firefighters were called to the fire at 402 Queen St., where they found evidence inside the hotel that may suggest that the fire was deliberately set.

Fourteen people were treated at the scene for minor smoke inhalation. Four people were transported to hospital for medical attention. One woman was in serious condition after suffering burns to 20 per cent of her body.

According to Kim Ayotte, chief of special operations with the Ottawa Fire Service, the fire started on the second floor of the hotel and was extinguished quickly after fire crews arrived.

However, significant levels of smoke spread through the building and 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.

Officers with the Ottawa police arson unit, the fire department and the fire marshal’s office are investigating the incident.

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