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So Katsucon had a fire…

So let me tell you about what happened at Katsucon

As some of you may know, there was a fire at the Gaylord Hotel around 1pm.

From this witness’s perspective let me tell you how it went down.

See what had happened was:

The Good:

  • The Time:  Let’s be thankful that this happened at 1pm during the day and not 1 am.   With the chaos and confusion (more on that in a second) if this was in the wee hours of the morning, things would have been worse.
  • The response time: With the rapid response of the fire dept. it took maybe an hour for Gaylord to let people back in, thus the PGFD were the real heroes!
  • It wasn’t as bad as we thought: Contrary to rumors that it was a pulled fire alarm or someone smoking weed in their rooms, the cause was a small kitchen fire that was easily contained.
You get all the props in the world for cosplaying Odinson, but if you are sick next week, we know why

You get all the props in the world for cosplaying Odinson, but if you are sick next week, we know why.

The Bad:

  • Getting a clear idea that there was an emergency:  Depending on where you were, it took maybe 15 minutes for it to register that it was not a drill.  There were a lot of shoots going on and many people didn’t take it seriously until actual hotel staff told us to clear the building
  • Nearly getting turned away:  There was a restaurant (which for the sake of this piece will not be named) that tried to turn many of us away while we were seeking shelter from the bitter cold. Thankfully the manager was working the door at the time we came piling in and after a few words, he allowed us to stay, but…it really would not have killed them to offer hot beverages to people (who were willing to pay)  who were freezing cold.
  • The bitter cold:  I can’t emphasize it enough but you can look at the pics and see that it was an ordeal for many people especially cosplayers who were not dressed for the weather to get out and find a place to keep warm.

We were going in…they were coming out…confusion

The Ugly:

Ooh!!    The stories!!!   The actual stuff that happened!!!!

  • Miscommunication:  can’t pin this on anyone but, we were told to go outside…less than ten minutes later, the all clear was given, then, we were told to move to the conference areas and shelter in place, as soon as some of us gravitated there, then many of us were told to go out.  It was really bad getting accurate communication across.  We were lucky that the fire wasn’t more serious!
  • There was a guy who was in the pool when the alarm went off.  Can you imagine having to vac outside dripping wet into the bitter cold with nothing but a towel and skivvies? I sure hope that the hotel comped his stay!
  • The idiots arguing with hotel staff to STAY in a building when being amply told it was on fire and blocking points of egress while most of us were trying to LEAVE.
  • Of course getting back in and all the shoots that were scheduled at one…blown.   Everyone scattered to the winds.
  • Also depending on who you hear it from, there was a major traffic backup that stretched for almost a mile as authorities dealt with the fire.
  • Supposedly, the dealer and vendor rooms barely got word that anything was happening but again thankfully everyone made it out ok.

Again, still have to send a shout out to the Fire Dept. for coming in and making sure everything was ok.

As far as we know…everyone made it out ok and no one was hurt.

It was also great seeing people step up to try and help those that were freezing and those that documented the event.   

This one was one for the ages.

About Armand (1266 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill

23 Comments on So Katsucon had a fire…

  1. Reblogged this on The Adventures of Fort Gaskin-Burr and commented:

    #Katsucon! #Fire! Dramamamamamamamama!


  2. Yeah this was super chaotic! At least no one was hurt…


  3. Nearly getting turned away: There was a restaurant (which for the sake of this piece will not be named) that tried to turn many of us away while we were seeking shelter from the bitter cold. Thankfully the manager was working the door at the time we came piling in and after a few words, he allowed us to stay, but…it really would not have killed them to offer hot beverages to people who were freezing cold

    Jeez – the manager let you guys squat in the restaurant and you’re expecting them to serve you hot beverages for free? Entitled much?


    • That wasn’t even the point…fact of the matter is, I was willing to pay if they had served us. I never said for FREE. I said they never OFFERED. Read for comprehension. They refused to serve us. Umm remember it was FRIGID temps outside. A little compassion goes a long way and I am sure if you were with us (which you were not) you would agree.


      • I actually was there (and I’m guessing you’re talking about that Chinese restaurant right across from Gaylord) and you could have ASKED them to purchased hot tea at the bar or if they had coffee and they would have served you. Catching an attitude because they let a large number of non-paying people sit in their restaurant but they didn’t have the servers pass out tea and drinks because you didn’t ask is just extremely entitled. You should have been grateful that they let you use their space to hang out in for free until the hotel got their situation under control.


      • If you were within vicinity of where I was, we did ask. TWICE. We asked the manager when we first arrived and when we went upstairs. So, if you don’t know, please don’t assume

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the info.
    Ring of Fire con is March 18th in Hampton so these are lesson’s learned for that or any convention.
    1) Add “This is not a Drill” during real emergencies
    2) Have places for people to go.
    3) Try to have a way for folks to meet up again and know that everything is alright.
    4) Protect those in wheel chairs or who can not get around.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There’s no such thing as a drill when an alarm goes off. The only time the phrase “This is not a drill” is used is when drills are actually performed as part of staff preparedness training and there’s a chance someone may take action appropriate for an emergency in a non-emergency situation. Hotels don’t perform drills with patron participation. When a building-wide alarm goes off, people should only be thinking about evacuating. The fact that people actually blocked entrances in this event is disgusting. Had I been in that situation, I’d probably push my way out and deal with the consequences later since any good lawyer would be able to argue that that person was committing several crimes including detainment.


  5. “Nearly getting turned away: There was a restaurant (which for the sake of this piece will not be named) that tried to turn many of us away while we were seeking shelter from the bitter cold. Thankfully the manager was working the door at the time we came piling in and after a few words, he allowed us to stay, but…it really would not have killed them to offer hot beverages to people who were freezing cold”

    Yeah, the huge about of entitlement right here ruined this post for me. As a supervisor of a store that frequently gets piled in on when it rains, having a mob of people come in like that becomes a huge hassle (big crowds = less room, WAY more noise) on not only the staff but the legitimate customers in there, especially when they’re trying to get out. You’re lucky they let you stay in because usually places will kick people out who aren’t paying for anything. And yes, it would have killed them to give you free drinks. How is giving all of you something they paid for to sell and make money off for free not hurting them? That’s a huge hit to their profits. Next time if you’re so worried about cold people, buy warm drinks for everyone.

    I’m glad everyone is safe but holy moly that bothered me.


  6. Yeah. I had been downstairs and everyone was normal. Then I got herded outside. Not ten minutes later, people went back inside, so I followed, and then got herded back out again.

    And then I ended up in the ambulance from an asthma attack because of the cold.


    • Yeah it’s tough when people are trying to make sure you’re safe and all you have to do is walk


      • It wasn’t that simple to be dismissed with a curt comment. A couple of problems I personally saw:

        A lot of people had no idea that there was even a emergency. I know was had gotten so used to the staff screaming to the point unintelligabily that some people couldnt tell what what going. Instead of leaving immediately, a lot of people were like, “What was all that about” “I don’t know… something…” In the hallway, people were so unaware that there was a real problem that they were still posing for photos, which didn’t help the crowd that surged into the walkway.

        Second, several people peiced it together once we were all herded into the main hallway on the lower and at one point people were being led out of the emergency exits that were right there, but then people were led past them and up the stairs to the ballroom level and out the doors leading to the parking garage. As a former head of security for a large hotel, I know that the only valid reason for not using a marked exit that close was if doing so exposed the evacuees to harm, which wasn’t the case with a fire in the kitchen. That would have helped dramatically.

        Now…about the resturant. I notice when the quote where the resturant was mention and that no one offered any hot drinks was referenced that the part about being willing to pay was not included…why is that? That’s not the same as expecting a freebie. The restaurants of National Harbor made a *nice* profit from the patronage of Katsucon, and do so every year. This isn’t about entitlement, it’s about showing some humanity. You had people who evacuated who was sorely underdressed to be stuck standing in dangerously cold weather. People who represent a group they fully hope to profit from. This could have been a “this resturant (name mentioned) looked out for us…” But inatead em.ven when asked, the business was refused. Big difference.

        A little humanity in that extreme situation shouldn’t have been to much to ask for, or seen as entitlement.


      • Thank u sir!!


      • Sorry…I typed this on a phone…


  7. I do not think it is at all entitled to expect a little human compassion in an emergency situation. As one person above stated they ended up in an ambulance with an asthma attack due to the extreme cold. I don’t think anyone would have minded being outside while they fire department cleared the situation (an actual fire that necessitated an evacuation that was no fault of attendees) if it hadn’t been dangerously cold yesterday. It only takes about 10-20 minutes in the temps we had yesterday for people to begin to experience hypothermia and frostbite to exposed skin and many people in cosplay were not dressed for being outside in those temperatures. I think every business who profited over the weekend from Katsucon attendees owed it those people to allow them to get out of the cold in an emergency and if they were smart they would have sold them hot beverages, it would have been good PR if nothing else.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve been going to Katsucon for years (and I live right across the river in Old Town Alexandria). I enjoy the con and the amount of effort that the cosplayers bring in, but the National Harbor businesses do not profit that much off of Katsucon for this kind of entitlement. My past roommate worked at a restaurant in the harbor and said that Katuscon and that other gaming convention barely bring in any money and when they come in the workers dread it because a lot of the attendees are rude and leave a huge mess. The hotel profits off the convention mainly. 95% of the attendees are younger people who barely bring enough money to cover the ticket fees and the gaming. They don’t go outside.

      I was there at the restaurant what the author is talking about – it was CROWDED. I was served at the bar and there was only a handful of servers on staff that were getting ready for Valentine’s Day weekend and if they offered hot drinks they would have been backed up ringing in $4 hot tea and coffee. It was a Chinese restaurant, not a cafe. There were attendees not paying for anything making a mess, playing with the clean silverware, and when we got the all clear to return to the hotel, most people did not clean up after themselves. And most attendees didn’t seem to want anything but to go back inside the hotel to continue on with the con.

      I used to wait tables for several years during high school and college and that’s why I feel so strongly about this. The author should have been grateful that they let in so many people to sit and wait. He wasn’t aware to notice the other attendees making a huge mess and just leaving afterwards – and it was Valentine’s Day weekend one of the busiest restaurant days of the year. Stuff like this is the reason why these kinds of cons get a bad rep in the area. They showed “compassion” by letting a large amount of people sit inside in their warm establishment and chill out. That’s all that needs to be done. Complaining otherwise IS entitlement and it’s sad that you people aren’t aware of that.


  8. My perspective as a dealer: first of all, great article. Apparently the hotel was also able to hand out blankets to some guests as they were leaving – the blankets really helped some of us! However, no alarm went off in the dealers room. A few people walked through telling us to leave but it didn’t seem urgent and wasn’t made clear what was going on. I would think that in a real emergency, there would be some way that the hotel could trigger all alarms to go off. And it took forever for us to all funnel out. The Katsukon staff tried to help direct us out, but you think the hotel staff should do that instead. Anyway, I think everyone did a great job – and this will certainly be a con to remember!


  9. I was yet another cosplayer that was severely underdressed for <20 degree weather. Arms, legs, even my toes were exposed to the cold. I couldnt even have my hands close since they were busy holding my props! My costume, like so many others, had NO protection from this kind of weather. I can only imagine what would have happened if there was accumulated snow on the ground! I would rather take my chances inside than be over ankle deep in snow!

    I think I was outside for like a minute before I lost all feeling in my digits. The wind was painful. My costume was flying everywhere (thank goodness I was wearing shorts for modesty). I would have given up my costume on the spot if it meant I could at least have my kigu pjs and snow boots! I was outside in the cold for perhaps 5 or so minutes before I was able to get inside the Marriott. (Btw big shout out to the Marriott for taking us in! Much thanks!) But those 5 minutes were absolutely horrible. Just horrible. I never want to experience that kind of weather again without the proper wear. Dont take your winter clothes for granted. Even a thin pair of gloves is better than no gloves.


  10. For people that were not there. There were frostbite warnings going on. There was a harsh wind blowing off the water and the windchills were enough to cause frostbite on exposed skin in a very short time. This crowd of people included children and people in not anywhere close to enough clothing. My toes still have no recovered from evacuating the building. This was not people not wanting to get damp, this was people were on oxygen from the bitter cold and medical was checking people for frostbite on the way back in. Turning away people in a TRUE emergency, and this was, is inhumane and deplorable.


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