A fire late Sunday badly damaged the rear wing of the Olivier House Hotel in the French Quarter, but its owners said they are optimistic they will be able to return to normal operations after a brief closure.

No one was hurt in the fire, which began just before midnight, but it displaced about 70 guests staying at the 178-year-old compound at 822 Toulouse St.

The New Orleans Fire Department did not release any details about what may have started the blaze.

Bobby Danner, whose family has owned the Olivier House for about 50 years, said he understood that the department was investigating the possibility that a discarded cigarette helped to ignite the portion of the property that once served as slave quarters. 

The Fire Department sent more than 60 firefighters to the site, stressing the hotel's proximity to other buildings in the tightly packed historic district. It took them nearly 2½ hours to bring the three-alarm fire under control, officials said.

Chief Rudy Taranto said the department prevented the blaze from spreading to the hotel's main house. However, there was a mixture of flame and smoke damage to the upper floors of the slave quarters, Taranto said.

Standing in the lobby of the 42-room hotel on Monday morning, Danner said he was relieved that none of his guests, employees or the first responders who evacuated the hotel and fought the fire were injured.

He said he anticipated having to close the business temporarily, but early signs were encouraging that the damage could be repaired and the Olivier House reopened.

"The main house is basically untouched," he said. "We're thankful." 

Danner couldn't provide a potential timeline, saying his staff for now was focused on making sure displaced guests found alternative lodging.

The fire adds another chapter to the Olivier House's already lengthy history.

Those who believe in the supernatural claim the hotel's grounds are haunted by the spirits of a Confederate soldier and two previous owners.

Since being built in 1839 for a woman named Marieanne Bienvenu Olivier de Vezin, the home has been used mostly as a private residence.

But, after ownership of the home changed hands a number of times, the Danner family bought it in 1970 and transformed it into a boutique hotel named after Olivier. 

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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