A cigarette butt started a motel fire that injured three firefighters, destroyed three vehicles, burned much of the hotel, and displaced at least two families last Sunday in Redding.
• A cigarette butt that was tossed in a plastic bucket started a motel fire that took nine hours to put out.
• Three firefighters were hospitalized for heat-related injuries.
• There was more than $200,000 damage to the building. Three vehicles were destroyed.
The fire at America’s Best Value Inn & Suites on North Market Street was reported at about 1:20 p.m, according to a report in the Redding Record-Searchlight.
Redding Fire Department inspector Craig Wittner said the fire was started by a lit cigarette butt that someone carelessly tossed into a plastic bucket on a wooden deck outside the motel.
The bucket ordinarily has water in it, but no water was found on Sunday, Wittner said.
Initial reports indicate that the blaze started at an adjacent fence and spread to the building. It destroyed seven units of the motel, a two-car garage, a laundry room and three vehicles parked in front.
It took crews with 17 fire engines and one truck to battle the blaze — and that still wasn’t enough manpower to keep the firefighters safe, battalion chief Shane Lauderdale told the Record-Searchlight.
The three hospitalized firefighters suffered heat-related injuries because there weren’t enough firefighters to rotate shifts, Lauderdale said. Fire crews battled the intense blaze for nine hours straight.
“For safety measures, we try and monitor how long the crews work at any particular task and rotate people with fresh crews,” Wittner explained. “It reduces the amount of injuries and accidents if we can do that. However, when you only have so many people to work with; you need quicker rotation, and there’s greater stress on your body.”
The two families that were staying at the hotel — owner Ashok Patel’s family and another family — were displaced but not injured.
Patel said he narrowly escaped by slamming a hall door shot when flames burst through it.
“I just came and tried to open this door, and flames just shot through,” Patel said.
The building fire loss was estimated at more than $200,000. Other costs have not yet been tallied.
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