Authorities identify source of fatal motel fire

Dhirajlal Bhagat (source: Hoover Police Department)
Dhirajlal Bhagat (source: Hoover Police Department)

HOOVER, AL (WBRC) - More details were released today surrounding the fatal motel fire in Hoover.

Four college students were killed in the fire.

They were Jamelia Brown, Jaslynn McGee, Catherine Muse, and Alondan Turner.

Authorities are ruling the fire an accident.

An ATF spokesperson said the fire started in the room of the hotel's maintanence worker.

He is of Hindu faith and had a small shrine on a table in his room.

Dhirajlal Bagot, an illegal immigrant, told authorities he left incense burning on his shrine which included a prayer rug.

He left his room for 30 minutes. He returned to heavy soot and smoke from the fire.

He told authorities he tried to entinguish the fire with an extinguisher, but it malfunctioned. He then went to alert the hotel's office staff.

He notified front desk about the fire, then he went after another extinguisher.

The fire quickly spread from his room, 268, in the corner bottom level of the building to the upper level.

The 4 women were in room 292. They were above and to the left of where the fire ignited. They became trapped.

"As the fire rolled, it involved this construction material. It actually rolled up and over with wind blowing across bringing fire. In doing so, blocked exit to room 292." said State Fire Marshall Ed Paulk.

Bagot had been living at the hotel for several years, but he had been living here illegally for the past 2 1/2 years.

He was taken into custody of immigration officials.

Authorities say although lives were lost, the fire will be ruled accidental.