Electrical Fire Ignites at Popular Hotel in Grand Canyon National Park

by Craig Garrett
El Tovar, Grand Canyon, AZ - stock photo

On October 26 at 3:30 p.m., a fire started from an electrical issue at El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon National Park. Within three minutes of receiving the initial report, structural firefighters from the National Park Service (NPS), Xanterra Fire and Security, and Tusayan Fire Department arrived at the scene. A circuit breaker had malfunctioned in the basement of the hotel, causing smoke but no open flames. The responders secured the area within 30 minutes with no reported injuries, according to the NPS.

Out of caution and the loss of electrical service after the incident, El Tovar Hotel, Kachina Lodge, and Colter Hall buildings were evacuated. A certified electrician will inspect theEl Tovar Hotel to assess its safety of overnight occupancy. The reopening date for dining services and overnight guests at the El Tovar has not been announced yet.

The El Tovar Hotel, also known as the El Tovar, is a former Harvey House hotel located on the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, United States. The hotel was designed by Charles Whittlesey, and it opened in 1905 as one of the many hotels and restaurants owned by the Fred Harvey Company. The company worked with the Santa Fe railway whose Grand Canyon Depot was only 100 metres (330 ft) away from their establishment. The location is also at northern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway, which used to be a branch of Santa Fe.

The Grand Canyon National Park hotel has had many famous guests and was used as a filming location

The hotel is a rare Harvey House facility that is still in operation. It’s one of the first examples of National Park Service Rustic architecture. The Hotel is also featured in the classic Chevy Chase film, National Lampoon’s Vacation. This hotel was designed as a luxurious getaway. It provided all the comforts and amenities you could want while still being right on the edge of nature. With stunning views of the canyon, it’s the perfect place to escape from reality for a while.

El Tovar was one of the first hotels situated in national parks. It started a trend that other railroads would follow by building luxurious resorts in scenic and newly-accessible locations. Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National have similar scenic hotels from that era. Park. By doing so, these businesses were able to stimulate tourist traffic–which largely depended on the railways for transportation–to those destinations.

The railway companies intentionally employed architectural design features that conveyed the image they wanted people to see. Of course, that was a superficially rustic resort that promised comfort for its guests. The El Tovar has been a popular destination for many years. Teddy Roosevelt staying there and writing a book about his trip in 1913. The hotel received the National Historic Landmark designation in 1987.