Flames ripped through a residential motel in Anaheim early Saturday morning, leaving a dozen families homeless and causing $175,000 in damage, a fire official said.
The blaze erupted shortly after midnight at the Anaheim National Inn in the 2700 block of Lincoln Avenue, and 15 of the motel's 50 rooms were severely damaged before the fire was brought under control, Anaheim Fire Chief Kent Mastain said.
Three of the motel's residents were taken to West Anaheim Medical Center for minor injuries, he said. The American Red Cross provided emergency food and shelter for 22 adults and 16 children--members of the 12 families displaced by the fire, spokeswoman Lynn Howes said.
It took firefighters from the Anaheim, Orange County and Fullerton fire departments nearly an hour to contain the blaze. Mastain said the fire apparently started in the second-story attic of the motel, but the cause had yet to be determined. An investigation was continuing.
One resident said she heard the fire alarm in her second-floor unit go off around midnight, then found flames spewing from the ceiling fan in her bathroom. Patricia Bull said she and several friends tried to douse the flames, but the blaze quickly got out of control.
"We were horrified; we weren't thinking of anything but getting out," she said Saturday afternoon as she and her daughter, Breanna, 7, tried to salvage what remained of their belongings.
Most residents were sleeping when the fire broke out, and some said they were roused by neighbors.
Linda Godwin was asleep in a two-room, first-floor unit with her husband, Raymond, and their daughter when residents began banging on their door. Godwin ignored the noise at first, thinking that some of her neighbors might be fighting.
But when she finally opened her door and stepped into the hall, "It was so smoky I couldn't see anything, and everyone was frantic," she said. Almost 16 hours later, Godwin was still dressed in the gray sweatpants she had slept in, and she and her husband were taking stock of their losses.
"It wasn't much, but it was our home," said Raymond Godwin, as he took a printer our of their apartment. "Now there are people here with nowhere to go."
The Godwins plan to move into government-subsidized housing next week, so they will once again have a roof over their heads. But Linda Godwin won't have the long velvet dress that she planned to wear to her daughter's wedding later this year.
Other residents expressed similar disappointments as they trickled back to the motel to search for salvageable belongings.
"I was hoping we wouldn't lose anything because, for a lot of us, this is all we have," said Amanda Barnett as she carried a bag of groceries down from the blackened second-floor apartment she once shared with her daughter.
Several doors away, Breanna Bull fished her teddy bear out of the toilet, where it had fallen the night before while she and her mother tried to put out the flames shooting from the bathroom's ceiling fan.
"Look at it; it's all ruined. It's my favorite bear," she said as she walked around the apartment in soaked red socks, clutching the water-logged toy.