NEW ORLEANS - On Friday, fire officials attempted to figure out what started a two-alarm fire at the Grand Palace Hotel on Canal Street on Thursday night.
The building was still smoldering on Friday morning and smoke could be seen emanating from hotspots on several floors.
Around 7:15 a.m., fire inspectors and a demolition crew arrived to begin inspecting the site to see what sparked the fire. They were assisted by construction engineers who knew the layout of the semi-demolished building.
"We have one of our district chiefs doing a survey of the scene with a construction crew. They're looking and trying to see where the fire may have started," said firefighter Michael Williams. "Because of the demolition, the building was already weakened. The fire may have weakened some area. Some of the floors had collapsed. So, firefighters were going inch-by-inch to make sure that they wouldn't get injured. There's debris everywhere."
Inspectors came across many hotspots that firefighters were able to extinguish before noon. It was then that they were finally able to leave the scene.
Firefighters first noticed flames and heavy smoke near the top of the Palace Hotel after completing a call at a downtown Canal Street hotel around 8:22 p.m. Thursday night.
“The main body of fire was in the penthouse. That’s where the majority of the debris is, the wood and everything, and we believe some of it dropped down," said New Orleans Fire Department Chief Charles Parent.
On Thursday night, smoke from the fire poured over the interstate as areas on the fifth, ninth, sixteenth and seventeenth floors burned. The fire was partially fueled by the explosion of several acetylene and oxygen tanks.
The flames were extinguished by 50 firefighters using three aerial ladders and it was under control by 10:36 p.m. Thursday. The crew was forced to fight the fire from the outide because it was in the process of being taken down and it was unknown which areas were safe to walk on.
On Thursday night, traffic in the west bound lane of the I-10 was completely shut down, but reopened around 10:10 p.m. South Claiborne Avenue, Cleveland Street and the Canal Street off ramp exit were also closed to all traffic. At 11:15 p.m. all streets were reopened with the exception of the Canal Street off ramp which will remained closed until Friday morning.
Firefighters do not expect it to delay the implosion plan. But, state officials said they want to send in their inspectors before allowing it.
There were no injuries reported.