Date: Tuesday, May 27, 1997
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday Morning Sprinkler Break Forces Disclave Evacuation
A broken fire sprinkler in the hotel hosting Disclave '97 damaged several rooms and forced the temporary evacuation of the hotel. At approximately 5:15 am on Sunday, May 25, a room sprinkler was damaged on the fourth floor of the Ramada Inn Conference and Exhibition Center in New Carrollton, Maryland. The sprinkler quickly flooded the room in which it was located, adjacent rooms and all the floors below. The fire alarm sounded, and the hotel was evacuated.
About seven guest rooms were affected, and both the elevator lobby and a function room which Disclave used as its Green Room were soaked. Guests with rooms located above the fourth floor, which were not directly affected by the flood, were not permitted to return to their rooms for more than an hour after the evacuation. The main hotel elevators were in the path of the flood and were disabled, and so guests at first could only return to their rooms via the stairs. However, the hotel soon made its service elevator available to the guests. Later in the morning, guests on the remaining floors of the hotel were allowed to return, some to find rooms spared from damage, but some with belongings drenched by the flood. The hotel moved guests with water-damaged rooms to other rooms in the hotel.
The convention and hotel staffs responded well to the emergency. Disclave encouraged fans who were rousted from their beds to head to the DisCave, Disclave's con suite, which was quickly replenished with additional refreshments. Disclave also reopened the film room and began showing videos. The hotel brought in additional staff to clean up the mess and provided complimentary breakfast pastries, coffee and drinks in the lobby for guests who were inconvenienced by the flood. Disclave is grateful to the hotel staff for their friendly and efficient efforts.
The convention continued, despite the disaster. Activities that had been scheduled in the 10th floor function space (made inaccessable by the disabled elevators) and the Green Room (water damaged) were moved to the Con Suite. The scheduled 3:00 pm comment and criticism session was moved to a larger room in anticipation of greater-than-normal attendance, but by that time most members seemed ready to start laughing about the incident. Disclave appreciates the convention members' good humor about the inconvenience.
The Washington Science Fiction Association, the parent organization of Disclave, is discussing the consequences of the incident with the hotel and other parties. Both WSFA and the management of the hotel are eager to resolve the incident as quickly as possible, and discussions have been cordial. Within an hour of the flood, the hotel had already assured WSFA that it was interested in continuing the contract negotiations for next year's Disclave.
Until WSFA and its officers know all of the details and while we are considering our options, the club will not make any public statements about the cause of the incident or the potential liability of any party. Rumors have already begun to spread (and mutate), with the predictable mix of fact, speculation and pure fantasy. As science fiction fans, we appreciate the literary merit of these rumors, but cannot discuss their specifics at this time. As more information becomes available, it will be posted on the WSFA web site (http://www.wsfa.org), and there may be additional announcements to the newsgroups.
Meanwhile, we are selling memberships for Disclave '98. [See the Disclave page for more information about Disclave '98.
This page was created 27 May, 1997. This page was last updated 5 October, 1997.