Guests say they smelled gas the night before the Killeen hotel fire

Published: Feb. 20, 2021 at 8:11 PM CST
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - Some guests said they smelled gas in the Hilton Garden Inn the night before a massive fire engulfed the Killeen hotel in flames.

“When I came back with the baby to bring him upstairs, I got the very strong smell of raw gas,” said Joe Roman whose wife, Lydia, and two sons stayed at the hotel Thursday night into Friday morning.

On Friday morning, when Roman returned to check on his family, he said he smelled it again.

“I really got the gentleman’s attention standing at the front desk, and I said, ‘Hey it really smells like a really strong odor of raw gas. I smelled it yesterday too,’” Roman told KWTX.

“He kind of just glanced over at me, and the customers that were in the lobby seemed pretty concerned, but that was that,” he said.

On Friday morning as she was heading to the lobby from her second floor room, Lydia Roman said she smelled the same thing.

“I mean, who knows, it could be of anything, but we’re really curious to find out,” she said.

The Killeen Fire Department has not yet said what the official cause of the fire was, and Chief James Kubinski told KWTX he does not believe the department received any calls about the hotel immediately prior to Friday night.

“We continue to cooperate with the local city authorities and the city fire marshal as they continue their investigation,” Cheryl Shibuya, the hotel’s general manager, told KWTX in a written statement.

Meanwhile, Alexandra Salazar, who had been staying at the hotel Tuesday through Friday night, said she saw “water everywhere” midday Tuesday.

“All the employees trying to mop it, those poor people, they were doing the best they could do in the circumstance they were in,” Salazar said.

“I asked them what’s going on, and they said, ‘Oh it’s the sprinkler system for the fire stuff,’” she said.

In a written statement early Saturday, the Killeen Fire Department said that its efforts “were hindered” Friday night because the hotel’s automatic sprinkler system was not working due to frozen pipes.

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