“We’ve launched a preliminary investigation into suspicions of arson. Several details suggest that the fire was started deliberately, but we don’t want to say more than that,” said Sörmland police spokesperson Lars Franzell to the TT news agency.
The head of emergency services in Eskilstuna, Owe Thörn, told TT that three people were taken to hospital with mild smoke-related injuries.
By 6.30am all guests staying at the Quality Hotel Statt had been evacuated.
“All 113 guests have been brought to safety and we’ve checked them against the hotel’s guest registry,” said Thörn, who described the mood as calm, adding that no one appeared to be suffering from shock following the incident.
Nevertheless, the town has set up a support group to care for those affected by the blaze.
The fire broke out in the hotel’s basement restaurant around 4am.
According to Thörn, the fire then spread throughout the oldest section of the building, a three-storey structure with an annex on top facing Hamngatan.
Soon most of hotel was engulfed in flames and firefighters from several nearby departments were called to assist with the evacuation before turning their attention to extinguishing inferno.
By 8.30am, the fire was under control.
“Now all that remains is the final extinguishing of the fire, which will take the entire day,” said Thörn.
He estimated that about half of one of the hotel’s two buildings was completely destroyed.