A smoky kitchen fire at the Hyatt Regency Morristown prompted evacuations of the Headquarters Plaza complex and sent a cook to the hospital on Monday morning.
The cook was sent for treatment of smoke inhalation, said Morristown Fire Chief Robert Flanagan.
When firefighters responded around 9 a.m., they saw smoke curling from the roof of the 14-story hotel, the chief said.
“It was coming through duct work from the kitchen. There was heavy fire in the duct work, we assume from grease,” said Flanagan, whose men were assisted by firefighters from Morris Township, Morris Plains and Madison.
The fire will be investigated further to determine its precise cause, the chief said.
Hotel managers on the scene declined to comment to MorristownGreen.com.
UPDATE: Hotel General Manager Jeff Babcock issued this statement:
“The safety of our guests and colleagues is a top priority at Hyatt Regency Morristown. We can confirm the hotel experienced an isolated fire in a part of its kitchen this morning.
“Guests and colleagues were evacuated while local authorities quickly extinguished the fire and inspected the hotel. Guests and colleagues were cleared to return by the local authorities, and one individual was transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation and has since been released.
“At this time, the hotel is assessing fire damage to its kitchen, and its restaurant will remain closed until repairs are made. We will provide further updates regarding food and beverage operations as soon as they become available. Further questions may be directed to Morristown authorities.
Shortly after 10 a.m., hotel guests and employees of all three towers in the HQ Plaza complex were allowed to return inside.
That was welcome news for Samantha Fletcher, standing outside with her waist wrapped in a towel.
She works as swim school manager for The Club at HQ Plaza, adjacent to the hotel, and had just completed her 20th lap when a police officer appeared poolside.
“He said, ‘You’ve got to get out of the pool. There’s a fire,'” Fletcher recounted.”We have drills all the time, just in case. Everyone moved fast when they said ‘fire.'”
Stephan Cybyk, who was staying at the Hyatt after riding 105 miles in Sunday’s Garden State Fondo, was tempted to take his bicycle with him when he evacuated his third floor room. But he figured he would be back momentarily.
“My thought process was, this is probably a false alarm,” said the Merrick, L.I., resident.
But when he reached the lobby, he discovered smoke, “and you could tell it wasn’t a fire drill.”
Fire hoses and flashing lights were Michael Kelly’s introduction to New Jersey.
The salesman flew in from Akron, Ohio, for a week of training sessions. His Uber ride from Newark Liberty Airport dropped him about a block from the hotel–Speedwell Avenue was closed to traffic–and he stood with his suitcase outside the Hyatt entrance, quietly taking in the scene on his first visit to the Garden State.
Meanwhile, about 20 employees of the Bayer pharmaceutical company got a practical lesson. When their training session in a Hyatt conference room got disrupted, they took their class outside to the Morristown Green.
“Agile,” said participant Mark Giannangeli. “Being more flexible.”
This story has been updated with comments from Hyatt’s management.