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NEW ORLEANS On Thursday night, a four-alarm fire broke out at an abandoned hotel known as a haven for vagrants, according to the New Orleans Police Department.

At 10:41 p.m., firefighters responded to a call of smoke coming from a former Holiday Inn at 9324 Chef Menteur Hwy.

Firefighters were on scene in five minutes and immediately struck a second-alarm.

The need for additional manpower and equipment eventually culminated in a fourth-alarm being called for at 11:21 p.m.

Two firefighters were injured while fighting the blaze. One suffered a puncture wound to the hand and the other complained of dizziness and exhaustion.

'A fire in an abandoned high rise like this is a fire department's worst nightmare. The lack of a working standpipe or sprinkler system increased the threat of fire extending vertically through elevator shafts and vents...couple that with the condition of the structure and the possibility of multiple persons trapped makes for a severe life safety risk for my firefighters,' Superintendent Charles Parent said.

The fire is believed to have been contained to the first floor of the nine-story building, officials said.

It was brought under control by 11:46 p.m. by 83 personnel in 29 units.

Officials believe the most likely cause is arson or accidental by vagrants.

The New Orleans Police Department, New Orleans Emergency Medical Services, American Red Cross and Entergy were all on the scene to assist.

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