Pasco County deputy remembers Puerto Rican hotel fire

Pasco deputy remembers Puerto Rican hotel fire where he helped rescue nearly 100 people.

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  • Three disgruntled employees set the hotel on fire, killing 98 and hurting 140.
  • “On that first rescue we put five people in the back,” Rojas said.
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  • Saturday is the 30th anniversary of the Dupont Plaza Hotel fire.

Pasco County Deputy Angel Rojas was one of the first boots on the ground when the Dupont Plaza Hotel was set on fire.

@BN9: Pasco deputy remembers Puerto Rican hotel fire where he helped rescue nearly 100 people.

PORT RICHEY — 

Pasco County Deputy Angel Rojas keeps pieces of his law enforcement career neatly organized in a binder.

But he doesn’t need pictures or newspaper clippings to remember what happened on December 31, 1986.

“I still remember everything that happened step by step,” Rojas said.

Saturday is the 30th anniversary of the Dupont Plaza Hotel fire. Three disgruntled employees set the hotel on fire, killing 98 and hurting 140.

Rojas and two other Puerto Rico Police officers were dispatched to the scene in a helicopter to help.

“There was a huge cloud of black smoke and yellow fire and at that point we realized everything was really out of control,” Rojas said.

Guests ran to the roof to escape the flames and the officers began lifting people to safety.

“On that first rescue we put five people in the back,” Rojas said. “I don’t know how they fit back there, but that’s what we did.”

Rojas said they went back and forth for hours, rescuing about 100 people, including one of the employees who set the fire and one familiar face.

“The last guy I got from the rooftop, believe it or not, to my surprise, was my brother,” Rojas said.

Rojas was honored for his heroic actions, but said he wished he could have saved more.

“Those panicking, scary, astonishing faces, it’s something that you will never forget,” he recalled.  

Pasco County deputy remembers Puerto Rican hotel fire

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