An early morning fire swept through a wing of the historic Coates House hotel yesterday. At least nine residents were killed, several of them in desperate leaps to the pavement.
Police said 32 of the 140 residents were unaccounted for, and they feared more bodies might be found in the smoldering ruins of the six-story frame and stone building.
The century-old hotel, once a stop of presidents, was more recently a $17-a-week home for transients and the elderly.
Nine persons were hospitalized with injuries, and more than 10 rendered homeless were taken to a Salvantion Army center.
The death count fluctuated during the day. At one point police reported 13 dead, but later revised the toll to nine, saying there had been duplications. However, firemen continued to report 13 dead.
"We know there are more bodies in there," said William Keily, battalion fire chief. "How and when we're going to get them out is anybody's guess."
Fire Chief John Waas said the blaze started about 4 a.m. By the time the fire was controlled about four hours later, the upper stories had been reduced to a shell. CAPTION: Picture, Firefighters hose down century-old Coates House hotel, a $17-a-week home for transients and elderly. AP