The Louisiana Fire Marshal’s Office on Thursday issued a cease-and-desist letter to a Gretna motel that inspectors said has been plagued by a number of safety issues, including faulty electrical wiring that caused small fires in rooms, according to a spokesman for the agency.
After investigators issued the order at the Luxury Inn and Suites at 1411 Claire Ave., people occupying the rooms there were forced to scramble for other lodging. Local authorities are expected to check Friday morning on whether the hotel has been emptied of guests.
About 60 percent of the hotel’s 98 rooms were occupied, said Deputy Chief Brant Thompson, of the Fire Marshal’s Office.
He said investigators at his agency had been to the Luxury Inn and Suites on a number of occasions in an effort to bring it into compliance with code. However, he said, they spotted multiple electrical problems, some of which sparked flames that charred rooms’ walls.
Thompson said there were also holes improperly made in firewalls, and unlicensed contractors were found to be performing renovations.
“Certainly, that’s very dangerous,” said Thompson, who alluded to a fire in another part of Louisiana that almost killed an out-of-state visitor; he said it started because of faulty electrical work. “We feel that the property is inherently unsafe and poses a real threat to public safety,” he said, so the Fire Marshal’s Office will require a plan from the hotel about how it will remedy the problems before it can resume operations.
Representing hotel manager Mack Khan, lawyer Joseph Raspanti said his client “fully intends to comply with all required permit needs.”
“He’s contracted to get all of this done ... and intends to be in full compliance in a matter of days,” Raspanti said by phone.
At the hotel, guests Kenyetta Pollard and Bridget Berry each wondered where they’d get the money to book rooms elsewhere on short notice.
Berry said all she really has are several children and a black-and-white sport utility vehicle with no heat.
Terry West, a maintenance man at the hotel who said he resides there, fretted he’d have to live out of his truck because there aren’t many affordable rooms in the surrounding area with Carnival approaching.
Advocate staff photographer Matthew Hinton contributed to this report.