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Father-son team extinguish S.C. hotel fire

10/1/2009

Myrtle Beach, SC. - When Nick and Carl Palombi pulled up to the Hampton Inn and saw smoke and people flooding out of it, they didn’t even have to think about it.

They ran into the hotel.

Nearly 20 minutes and two full fire extinguishers later the son-and-father tandem, both Hamilton residents, were responsible for putting out a small electrical fire Sept. 27 at the hotel on U.S. 501 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., that had the potential to be worse had someone not acted. Curtains hung above the on-fire electrical outlet.

“You react,” Carl Palombi said. “I didn’t want to see people get hurt. If fire was shooting out the windows or doors, we wouldn’t have gone in. As long as we were consciously safe, we were going to help.”

Palombi, 51, was in town visiting Nick for family weekend at Coastal Carolina University, where Nick Palombi is a sophomore business management major. Nick drove his family back to the Hampton Inn after getting together for lunch, and when they arrived, the group heard the fire alarm and saw smoke coming from the lobby.

Nick said he slammed his car into park — leaving it running near the hotel’s fire lane — and rushed into the lobby. Carl Palombi followed close behind. Neither have any firefighting experience.

“I just ran in there without even thinking,” said Nick Palombi, a 2008 Steinert High School graduate. “I just reacted. I want to be a state trooper in Jersey. I guess that’s where it came from. I react in situations like that instead of panicking.”

With their T-shirts over their mouths and noses, Carl Palombi moved the curtains away from the sparks as Nick sprayed the outlet with a fire extinguisher. Every now and then, they would take turns running out for fresh air, as the smoke and dry chemicals from the fire extinguisher made it almost impossible to breathe.

The outlet continued to spark each time the Palombis extinguished the flame, so they asked the hotel manager to turn the power off in the hotel. That strategy worked, and the sparks and fire were mostly gone by the time the fire department arrived, Nick Palombi said. He guessed it took about 10 or 15 minutes for a response.

Horry County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Richard Blackburn could only say the incident involved a sparking electrical outlet and was rather small. He said he did not know of any hotel guests helping to contain the sparks, but did hear about the hotel manager shutting off the building’s power. No one was hurt in the incident.

Perhaps that’s because Nick Palombi said he left soon after the fire department responded. Carl Palombi said he got out of the way and waited with the rest of the hotel guests at that time. Fire officials cleared the building an hour later.

Management at the hotel thanked him for helping, Carl Palombi said, but neither he nor Nick wanted or sought out any recognition for their actions.

Carl Palombi said he expects on staying at the same Hampton Inn again but not with any special treatment.

“It’s a real nice hotel,” Carl Palombi said. “They’re very nice. People are friendly, and the hotel is absolutely spotless.”

Rob Anthes




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