It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the blaze at the Athenaeum Palace or how many people were inside the hotel when it broke out. The fire department said it had deployed 35 firefighters with 12 vehicles, who managed to bring the fire under partial control shortly after it broke out.
Smoke could be seen coming out of at least two side windows on the upper floors of the seven-story hotel, while an Associated Press reporter on the scene saw firefighters using a ladder to evacuate a woman in a housekeeping uniform. Authorities said the fire department evacuated a total of 20 people from the hotel.
Others came out of side entrances, some covered with blankets, and were being checked by paramedics in ambulances waiting nearby. Fire crews were going room-to-room inside the hotel to ensure nobody remained inside.
“We could smell the smoke and we got out. I don’t know what happened to the people on the higher floors,” Israeli hotel guest Tzila Cohen said. “I saw that they rescued a cleaning lady with the ladder. I hope everyone is okay.”