A young mother-of-two is in custody and facing arson charges after a fire took hold across two rooms of a quarantine hotel in Cairns, forcing the entire building to be evacuated.
Emergency crews were called to the Cairns Pacific Hotel in far north Queensland around 7am on Sunday and arrived to find the rooms on the top level engulfed in flames, sending dense smoke billowing across the regional city.
More than 160 guests staying in 132 rooms were evacuated from the building within five minutes.
Footage captured by locals showed flames and black smoke billowing from the nine storey hotel, causing ‘significant’ damage.
A 31-year-old woman from Victoria who had been in hotel quarantine with her two children since Friday was taken into custody and was being questioned by police.
A Queensland Police spokesman told Daily Mail Australia charges are expected to be laid later on Sunday.
‘I can’t go into any further details about how the fire started because it’s a sensitive investigation at this time,’ Acting Chief Superintendent Chris Hodgman told reporters on Sunday..
‘All I can say is we have our top investigators working with QFES and others to look at the scene which is currently a crime scene at this time.’
The woman’s two children were being cared for by police.
‘Those children are currently with us at the moment and we’re looking after their welfare,’ Supt Hodgman added.
He confirmed there had been ‘some issues’ with the woman since she began quarantine at the hotel two days ago.
Fire investigators remain at the scene examining the ‘significant’ damage caused.
Police blocked the vicinity and surrounding streets for five hours and urged locals to avoid the area. Roads had since been reopened.
Paramedics treated seven people at the scene with one taken to hospital with respiratory problems.
Supt Hodgman praised hotel staff on the swift response to the emergency and evacuation of guests, who have been relocated to another quarantine facility.
‘Without their assistance that could have been a different outcome and they did a magnificent job getting people out of the hotel,’ he said.
‘It’s been quite traumatic for some of those people, so that’s our focus at the moment,’ he said.
‘They’ve got all their worldly belongings with them in the rooms, so we need to get that back to them as best we can … imagine being woken up at seven o’clock with this incident on a Sunday morning.’
Source: Thanks msn.com