Motel, Go-Go Lounge Fire Injures 16 in New Jersey

Mary Helen Gillespie, Associated Press – March 28, 1987

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP)- A suspicious fire swept through a motel and go-go lounge early Friday, forcing visitors to jump from windows and injuring 16 people, and a motel guest was arrested and charged with arson, officials said.

Wade Ray King, 30, of Pennsauken, was arrested Friday evening at another motel 9 miles from the two-story Oasis Motel and its five-story Harem Lounge, said Camden County Prosecutor Samuel Asbell.

King, who had cut his hair to disguise himself, was charged with a single count of aggravated arson, said Asbell.

”A lot of people had to jump,” motel guest Meta Barrow said.

About 30 people were rescued as flames and smoke engulfed the building, said Camden County Prosecutor Samuel Asbell.

Ms. Barrow and her friend, Francis Davis, were treated at Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center for smoke inhalation and burns and released. Fourteen other people also were injured, three seriously.

Officials combed buildings along a seedy stretch of transient motels, liquor stores and go-go bars about a mile from the Philadelphia city line.

”It’s always been a questionable spot,” said Asbell. ”There have been a number of complaints and disturbances, but nothing like this.”

Ms. Barrow, 20, wearing an eye patch and a hospital gown over yellow slacks, said Davis lowered her out their motel window with a bed sheet as flames spread through the room.

”He lowered me down and told me not to jump. I was hysterical and screaming. There were flames everywhere,” Ms. Barrow said. ”When the fireman came with the ladder, I just jumped on him.”

Glenn Rivers, 32, said he smelled smoke while getting ready for bed.

”The hallway was filled with smoke. I dashed through the window to the roof and got out just in time,” Rivers said. ”The people who had been sleeping got hurt bad.”

He and other guests who were not injured taken to other motels.

Five people remained hospitalized on Friday, including two in serious and one in critical condition, hospital officials said.

Insurance adjusters at the scene said the motel complex was owned by Shambhu Inc. No other details on the owners were available.

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