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Detroit Couple Says Timely Warnings Kept Them From Hotel Fire

January 1, 1987

MIAMI (AP) _ A Detroit couple vacationing in Pueto Rico say they heeded warnings not to visit San Juan’s Dupont Plaza Hotel, which later erupted in a tragic fire.

Steve and Freda Fenner said they were staying at a small guest house next to the hotel and had planned to spend Wednesday afternoon in the Dupont’s casino.

But the man behind the front desk of the 35-room El Canario guest house sternly urged them to make other plans, they told The Miami Herald in an interview Wednesday night.

″Last night he told me, ’Don’t you even think about going there. There is going to be a bombing,″ Mrs. Fenner said. ″I asked him why, and he said there were union-labor negotiations going on and there is always trouble.″

″This morning, as we walked out, another guy warned us: ’Don’t go near the Dupont Plaza,‴ she said. ″We decided not to take any chances and we went somewhere else.″

The fire at the 450-room DuPont reportedly began with a series of explosions in the casino area. By Thursday afternoon, there were 42 confirmed deaths.

″It was pandemonium,″ Mrs. Fenner said of the oceanfront scene Wednesday afteroon. ″There were fire trucks all over the place, helicopters airlifting people from the roof and everybody screaming.″

″What was really sad was the children on the beach watching their parents stuck up in the rooms,″ she added. ″They were sitting there helpless, watching this.″

After the fire, Mrs. Fenner said she ran into the man who had warned her the night before.

″When I saw him again tonight, I told him thanks and that I was grateful,″ she said. ″He said, ’I told you so.‴

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