HOUSTON, Miss. (WCBI) – The result of a hotel fire in Houston, means loss of business and revenue for the town.
The fire leaves the city with just one hotel and a few bed and breakfasts, and it’s expected to mean big losses to Houston’s 2% tourism tax collections.
A caved in roof, burnt door numbers, and rubble is all that’s left of the Western Inn and Suites off Highway 8, after an early Saturday morning blaze.
Houston Fire Chief Jonathan Blankenship says it’s not every day firefighters respond to hotel fires, especially ones that destroy every room.
“They’re built in such a way to hopefully prevent such a large fire in loss. They have to meet codes, the way they’re built, so it’s very rare to have such a total loss. You’ll have a hotel room that catches fire or something, but they’re usually quickly extinguished, contained,” says Blankenship.
It took firefighters almost four hours to put the fire out, but its effects will continue to smolder in the city’s budget.
“Any type of loss from a revenue source, or in this case, a place to stay, and also as a part of a revenue source from the tourism side, it’s going to impact it, whether it’s a dollar or ten-thousand dollars. I mean, it’s going to be a loss from it,” says Houston Mayor Stacey Parker.
Built in 2000, the Western Inn was also the city’s newest hotel.
“When people come in for any type of activities, they’re looking for a place to stay. So, we’re hoping that they can rebuild this one and get some good areas for people to stay when they visit Houston,” says Blankenship.
Mayor Stacey Parker says the community is invested in a Main Street program and one part of it, is finding ways to recruit more business and attract more people to the area.
“This is a prime opportunity to put our best minds at work, and hey, do we or don’t we need motels, hotels? Our plan says it does, so it’s going to give us that opportunity to do the leg work and say, ‘hey look, we need you back,” says Parker.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Department, the Houston Police Department, and the Houston Fire Chief were back at the scene on Monday, January 22.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.