NEW YORK (AP) – Hundreds of guests were evacuated from a midtown Manhattan hotel Saturday and 30 suffered minor injuries after smoke from a rubbish fire in the basement spread to several floors, fire officials and hotel employees said.

The fire began just after 4 p.m. at the Hilton New York on Sixth Avenue at West 53rd Street. Most of the 30 injured guests and three hurt firefighters suffered from smoke inhalation, said Fire Department spokesman Dave McGovern.

Guests who were in the hotel when the fire broke out had to make their way through smoke-filled hallways to get outside to safety.

Tom Mitchell, 14, was watching a baseball game with his family in their hotel room when Tom’s mother said she smelled smoke. They looked out in the hallway and “the whole floor was filled with smoke,” Mitchell said. “You couldn’t see the other end of the hallway.”

They grabbed their shoes and ran through the smoke to the staircase, where he said a large crowd was also making its way downstairs.

“I’m still shivering,” said Mitchell, visiting from Goshen, Conn. “I almost broke out in tears.”

The Fire Department declared the fire under control around 5:30 p.m., but officials did not begin permitting guests back inside until 7:30 p.m.

As a crowd of several hundred people lingered in front of the hotel, many of the guests said they were frustrated with the interruption in their vacations.

“We have theater tickets in the room, $185 worth, but we’re going to miss the show,” said Tamara Damschroder, of Toledo, Ohio.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.


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