Waterless waterbed blamed for structure fire | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Waterless waterbed blamed for structure fire

Colin Hupp, Tahoe Daily Tribune

A waterbed heater left on with no water in the bed is being blamed for a fire Friday at Secret Honeymooner Inn.

Scott Chamberlain, repair man for Riley plumbing and heating, first noticed the fire.

“I saw smoke coming out of the window edges and the doorway edges and notified the manager — she called it in,” Chamberlain said.

The first floor room poured out thick black smoke until South Lake Tahoe Fire Department personnel arrived. They only needed about five minutes to get the fire under control. Three trucks and 11 firefighters responded.

“This was a pretty routine fire for us,” said Battalion Chief Bill Gilliland. “Just the room and its contents burned.”

The fire caused approximately $25,000 worth of damage. Some occurred to the flooring under the room and a little smoke damaged the room above. Owner Rajinder Bal said the building was insured for fire.

Firefighters responded to the hotel at 924 Park Avenue last May for a fire that destroyed three rooms and damaged others. Those rooms had been under renovation when the new fire broke out.

“It looked like they’d been doing some work in there,” Gilliland said.

The damage from the two fires means that only half the hotel’s rooms will be available to rent during the holiday season.

The hotel was the focus of a two-year FBI sting operation in 1999 called Operation Clean Sheets. The former owners were indicted on tax evasion charges stemming from the sale of the hotel.

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