More than 100 Austin fire fighters were called to the Doubletree Hotel a little after 10:00 Friday morning. Heavy smoke was spotted coming out of the top of the building. One of the witnesses, Ricky Norris, called 911 from his constriction job site about a block away.
"You could tell it wasn't gray coming out, cause of the weather or anything, you could tell it was on fire," said Norris.
Video of the fire was shot from across the street by people in a state office building. The video shows how the thick smoke and flames poured out of a roof vent. Hotel guests, like Jo Rook, said they smelled the smoke before fire alarms went off.
"I was just coming out of the room when this man said, "Get down get down!" It frightened me to death. I ran down 7 flights of stairs terrified," said Rook.
Along the street, people shouted up to hotel guests who were on their balconies. Michele Hernandez captured the moment on video.
"That was pretty scary, just wondering if everybody got out and if they were okay, and it was really scary," said Hernandez.
The shouts could be heard all the way up to the 14th floor. That's where Diane Threadgill and her friends were staying .
"They were yelling, it was like they were looking right at us yelling for us to get out, and we are so thankful," said Threadgill.
One person was treated for smoke inhalation. the guest were allowed back into the hotel around the noon hour. Investigators say the fire started in the kitchen. Flames ignited grease that had built up in a vent that went to the roof. Fire did not reach any of the rooms because the vent design kept the flames contained. That's why AFD Division Chief Palmer Buck said the alarms did not immediately go off.
"When the fire had gotten a little bit bigger, and we started having a little bit of smoke that's when the alarm system started going on. Everything I've been told the alarm system work as it should have," said Buck.
Austin building codes require special fire protection features in high rises. There are water pipes on upper floors for firefighters to tap into. In newer tall buildings, there are also places called Area's of Refuge; that's where people can go to and find shelter until help arrives.
No major damage has been reported.