Umatilla’s Tillicum Inn was heavily damaged Wednesday by fire.
The hotel, located at 1481 Sixth Street, was the scene of hours of active firefighting and mop-up by fire departments from throughout the region, including those as far away as Pendleton.
The exact cause of the fire was not immediately known. But around 12:30 p.m., Umatilla Police Chief Darla Huxel said it was thought to have been related to maintenance work.
“They were working on a water line, or doing some soldering,” Huxel said.
She said she did not know if the person doing the maintenance work was an employee of the inn.
Huxel and other Umatilla police officers directed traffic as crews from Umatilla Fire Department battled the fire. They received mutual aid from Umatilla County Fire District 1 and Echo Rural Fire Department, Pendleton Fire Department and others.
Five or six people were staying in the motel at the time and were evacuated. Inn manager Josephine Kepich said she did not know details about what happened, and couldn’t comment until she could get in touch with the owner.
Outside the hotel, employees were discussing how to re-house their guests. The hotel has an annex behind the main building.
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