Fire in Hotel Ganey Dan in Ashkelon

As last week the children started kindergarten, on Thursday Hila had her 1st full day without the children since Nadav was born 9 months ago. As we also didn’t go to summer vacation we decided to do a quite shabat in a hotel so she doesn’t need to cook. The options were the Dead See or Ashkelon. We decided by Ashkelon. She even made a free Dan Hotels club membership.

At the entrance we got our presents as new club members: a notebook (no, not that kind ;) and a pen. The children got a “poncho” towel that Alma was happy to wear all the time. She looks like a Jedi knight in it.

We spent Friday afternoon in the swimming pool. Alma tried her new life belt + the two small things you put on the arms. At the beginning she was afraid and stayed only in the shallow water but later she went in with Hila and really swam.

In the morning we heard that there’s a room full of games for the children. Hila checked it out, but there were some things not for shabat. We decided that Alma can go in but we tell her where she can play. It was pretty cool. She found lots of interesting things, Hila went to the Gymboree with Nadav. Later they went up to sleep. When I started to fell asleep I asked Alma if we can go up to rest as well. After a while she agreed. On the way to the exit she saw something and told me: I want to play with that? With what, I asked? With that thing of uncle Yaakov. It was a chess table :) I set up the table (most of the parts were missing, but she didn’t realize) and we had a fast game. She took the white king and put it next to the black: “he wants to be with his family”. I tried to explain to her what’s the difference between family and enemy but gave up.

After lunch Hila took Alma to the games and I took Nadav to the room and we both fell asleep. Certainly I heard screaming people from the corridor. “Leave the room and run down, there’s fire!” I opened the door, looked to the right and saw smoke. Closed the door, hesitated for a moment if I have 10 seconds to put some clothes on (I was in boxer) and decided to put my trousers and shirt on. Took Nadav (still sleeping) and started to run. We were on the 4th floor, the smoke came from the stairs, I had no idea where is the fire, above or below us. For a moment I thought if it is better to go up or down (there are only 6 floors, so it can be faster to get to the roof, especially that everyone is going down, and who knows, if it is possible to pass the fire in the staircase, if it’s below the 4th floor) All this happened within 1 second and I started to run down the stairs. I wasn’t sure if this was the right decision as we were running in smoke. It’s needless to say that it was a big mess, everyone was screaming and running. I saw a child with his t-shirt put on his mouth and nose. I tried to put mine shirt on Nadav’s face, but I couldn’t really because it was a too tight shabat shirt. After a few seconds I took it off cause I was afraid that I will tamp him with my own hands. We were decreasing faster then others, I was really afraid for him, so I decided: this is not the time for European manner. I was running next to the other people. Suddenly I saw Hila running up. I only realized it after she passed me. I shouted to her: mom, we’re here! She joined us. Soon we got to the lobby. I was running out to make sure Nadav gets some fresh air and he’s ok. He didn’t understand what’s happened, was still half asleep but he was breathing and smiling. I payed down on the grass and started to cry… We were safe.

Other people were still searching each other, someone called the firefighters, it turned out the hotel didn’t call them??? Others were talking about the negligence of the hotel: how come the smoke detector haven’t alarm? The automatic sprinklers haven’t start? Even now that people are all over the lobby nobody started a manual alarm. Others may still be sleeping in their bed. Some people had all they bags with them, and they left the hotel saying “I guess we’re gonna get a free weekend anyway from the hotel”. After a while we heard sirens. It was the police. Only much later the firemen started to arrive. Later an ambulance arrived as well. We saw through the windows of the staircase that people are still running in the upper floors. I saw someone in uniform with a towel on his face. It couldn’t be a fireman with a towel?!?! Later I identified the uniform, it was a policeman.

By this time the things cooled down a bit. We heard gossips about the fire. Someone smoke in room 617, exactly 2 floors above our room and the mattress caught fire. People started to enter the lobby again. Some children were let into the firefighter’s truck, so it was obvious that it’s over, and it seemed that nobody was hurt. Alma also went up to see the firefighter car (sorry, no pictures, it was still shabat) then we also entered the lobby. I went up to the room (the elevators were still locked but they let everyone up on the stairs) to bring the “seuda shlishit”. The room was ok, but the stairs were still full of smoke, so we decided not to take the children upstairs. After we had the short dinner Hila went up and packed everything. Shortly after the havdala we checked out. I think this was the earliest ever we managed to leave in motzey shabat.

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