Students return after Spring Break hotel fire

March 17, 2008 11:40:27 AM PDT
The fire broke out at the Best Western Playa Suites Hotel in Acapulco. It was packed with college students - many from our area. One girl says she awoke to screams and breaking glass. In a phone interview, Penn State Junior Devon Herrick of Malvern described how she awoke to screams of fire.

Herrick tells Action News, "I just thought it was stupid people playing joke, so I kind of ignored it until I heard glass breaking and people screaming they need to get out of the building."

She rushed to her balcony, looked across the way at Playa Suites' Tower 2 and realized the fire was no joke.

Herrick went on to say, "There was smoke billowing out of the hotel uncontrollably. We couldn't see the other side of it, I didn't see any flames, but there were people on the balconies jumping off the balconies into pools. They were throwing tables through windows trying to get the smoke out. There was a family with a little baby. They were screaming because they couldn't get out."

Leslie Koller's son, Matt, a Senior at Towson University in Baltimore, was also asleep when the hotel caught fire. Around 6 a.m. he awoke to Acapulco Police kicking down his door. "They used guns to wake him up. He got nudged with a gun. He said, 'Mom, I got poked with a gun,'" said Leslie.

Koller's son and other students say the Hotel had no working smoke or fire alarms. Fortunately, so far, there are no reports of injuries, which Devon Herrick finds hard to believe.

"I saw tens of people being taken out on stretchers. I was right in the thick of things and I saw people being dragged out who were lifeless. They were just being dragged out."

Most of the students planned their trip on The company had no comment, but on the website student city released a statement saying everyone is safe and that the facts are still being gathered.

To read the entire statement visit