An explosion Friday night ripped off the side of one portion of the historic Hiway House Motel in Albuquerque, sending one person to the hospital.
The blast at the motel, at 3200 Central Ave. (aka Route 66) near Kellys Brew Pub, prompted evacuations and street closings, reported the Albuquerque Journal.
Firefighters found a damaged room and “extensive structural damage to the building.” There was no fire after the blast, but a large portion of the motel’s wall along Bryn Mawr had been blown into the street, exposing plumbing and wiring and damage to both upstairs and downstairs rooms.
“Multiple units were affected, and one individual required treatment and transport,” according to Albuquerque Fire Rescue.
Officials did not give information about the person’s condition. […]
Fire Rescue said the cause of the explosion is under investigation, but police at the scene told witnesses and neighbors it involved a personal oxygen tank.
KRQE-TV reported Saturday that New Mexico Gas Company workers were at the scene Saturday afternoon.
Attempts to call the motel at its listed number Sunday morning were unsuccessful.
The motel’s website contains this history of the establishment, which once was a part of a lodging chain.
Hiway House was a motor hotel chain founded in 1956 at Phoenix, Arizona by the late Del Webb, a construction magnate who owned the New York Yankees baseball team and later created the Sun City retirement communities. A remnant of the old Hiway House chain is still in operation at Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The chain soon became a fixture throughout the Southwest. Ultimately, there would be Del Webb’s Hiway House locations at Phoenix, Holbrook; Flagstaff; and Tucson, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Abilene, Texas; and Blythe, Palm Springs, and Arcadia, California.
In 1955 before starting the Hiway House chain, Webb was one of the initial key investors of Ramada Inns, a new upstart chain of roadside hotels in the Southwestern states of Arizona, California and Texas that was founded by Marion W. Isbell. Today, Ramada (now Ramada Franchise Systems) is one of the world’s largest lodging chains and owned by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
Webb sold the Hiway House chain in the early 1960s, which then took the name Sentry Hiway House. The chain remained in operation until sometime after 1970, by which time most of the hotels were sold off and changed their names with some of them becoming franchises of competing lodging chains.
(Image of the Hiway House Motel sign in Albuquerque by Albert Mock via Flickr; an image of the explosion damage at the Hiway House Motel via KRQE screen-capture image from video)