Matteson Travelodge evacuation halted, 80 families allowed to stay after safety issues resolved

Diane Pathieu Image
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
80 families can stay at Matteson hotel after safety issues resolved
More than 80 families will be allowed to stay in their homes at a Matteson hotel after safety issues were resolved overnight.

MATTESON, Ill. (WLS) -- Families living in the Matteson Travelodge will be allowed to stay after fire safety issues were resolved overnight, officials said.

The warning seemingly came out of nowhere, said Amanda Chavez, manager of the hotel.

"The code enforcer, police officers, they came, maybe like six squad cars, kinda scared everybody," Chavez said. "Some of them even walked in with a key card that we had gave them just in case and were just entering into rooms, scaring people."

Matteson Fire Chief Michael Bacon said the evacuation was necessary because of several safety violations involving the sprinkler system and fire alarm issues with the fire protection system.

"At this time, they have four outstanding violations with sprinkler deficiencies, six outstanding violations with their fire alarm system. An example of the current fire alarm system is the notification of the audible and visual alarms on the second and third floors are not working," Chief Bacon said.

Multiple crews were hired to fix the issues overnight, a village spokesman said. The fire chief performed an inspection at 2 p.m. Tuesday and determined that the all recommendations for smoke detector and alarm systems had been satisfied.

More issues regarding police and building codes are still being addressed, but residents will not be displaced while they are.

Management said there had been a delay in getting the work done because of the pandemic.

Long-term residents like Lisa Perez, who has been staying at the hotel with her granddaughter for a year, have no place else to go.

"I don't have a car, money, anywhere to go," Perez said. "This was my home for a year. It's very devastating. It's nerve-wracking. I mean, all in one."

The hotel works with churches and other organizations to provide a room for people who otherwise don't have a place to stay. About 30 families remained Wednesday morning with no other choice but to wait and see what happens next.

The manager herself lives at the hotel with her five children and is worried about not having a backup plan.

"We don't have nowhere to go, we don't even have a car to transport ourselves," Chavez said.

In a statement, the Matteson Fire Department said, "There is a lengthy report that entails an abundance of code and safety violations concerning the facility over the past 10 months. Amongst the numerous violations include non working alarm and sprinkler systems on the upper levels. It was patrons of the hotel who initially informed the police department in February of 2021 that the smoke detectors were not functioning. From that a full inspection was performed on the property. Over 20 rooms did not have functioning smoke detectors. Numerous other violations were noticed by Fire Department Officials."