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Ventura County

Fire Razes Old Hotel in Ojai


The former Nordhoff Hotel in Ojai was destroyed Saturday by a fire that started from an unattended candle, Ventura County fire authorities said.

Nine tenants were displaced by the blaze but no one was hurt.

The fire, reported about 2:15 p.m., destroyed the 10,000-square-foot building, which was erected in the 1890s. Damage estimates topped $3 million, officials said.

More than 40 firefighters responded, but by the time they arrived, flames had spread to the attic of the two-story building, which had been built with wood and natural rock from the area.

"It was a beautiful, huge structure and it's gone," said Joe Luna, a county Fire Department spokesman.

The hotel, owned by Mary and Phillip Pierpont of Ojai, had been converted into five apartments several years ago and renamed the Pierpont Cottages. It sat in a tree-lined area of Thacher Road at the base of the Nordhoff mountain range.

Two of the nine tenants were home when the fire started but neither woman, whom officials declined to identify, was injured. Authorities said at least two house cats were killed.

The fire started when a candle fell onto some bedding and ignited it, officials said. The tenant who was burning the candle and who was home when the blaze began will not be cited, and authorities were calling the fire an accident.

"[The Pierponts] were very concerned about the occupants and if everyone was OK," Luna said.

The displaced residents relocated to the Hummingbird Inn, also in Ojai.

The property was the first hotel in Ojai, Luna said.

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