April 2, 2015 / 3:06 PM / 5 years ago

Fatal blaze at budget LA hotel appears suspicious: officials

(Reuters) - A “suspicious” fire tore through a small hotel in an industrial district of Los Angeles on Thursday, killing one man and injuring 15 other people including a child, local fire officials said.

More than 100 firefighters took almost an hour to extinguish the pre-dawn blaze at the low-cost, two-story Wilmington Hotel, where some occupants leaped from windows to escape the flames, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) said.

“LAFD Arson Investigators are combing through the debris to determine the cause, which remains under active investigation and is deemed suspicious,” it said in a statement.

“Functional smoke alarms were found,” it said.

Fifteen people were injured, according to the department. Twelve of them were treated and transported to the hospital, including two people who suffered moderate to serious injuries, it added.

“The injuries were predominately to the lower extremities from jumping out the second story, no burns,” the statement said.

The 20-room hotel, which had 29 occupants at the time, lies a few streets north of the Port of Los Angeles in an area of auto shops, tire yards, and drop-in centers for the homeless and veterans.

One occupant, who gave his name as Manuel, told local KTLA 5 television he fled the building after hearing an alarm and other residents banging on his door.

“As we came out, there were people jumping out of the windows,” he told the TV station. “They asked us to catch a little girl ... They dropped her down to us.”

Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Daren Palacios told KTLA 5 firefighters arrived within three minutes of receiving a 911 call. They had to cut bars on some windows and contend with a metal fence that had become electrified by a live cable, he added.

Displaced, non-injured guests were being assisted by firefighters and the Los Angeles Red Cross, officials said.

Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Susan Heavey

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