50 Displaced, 3 Injured by Hotel Blaze

From United Press International

A stubborn fire in the basement of a Pomona residential hotel displaced about 50 people, injured three and caused $400,000 in damage before it was extinguished early Saturday, officials said.

The blaze was reported shortly before midnight Friday in the basement of the four-story Mayfair Hotel at 115 E. 3rd St.

About 75 firefighters from 10 fire departments battled the blaze for several hours, unable to enter the basement to find the source of the flames because of the intense heat and buildup of gasses.

Firefighters chopped holes in the floors and eventually filled the basement with water and foam to control the fire about 4:30 a.m.

About 50 residents of the hotel were evacuated and housed overnight at the YMCA and the First Baptist Church.

Pomona Fire Capt. D. Flanders was treated at Pomona Valley Community Hospital for smoke inhalation. He was in good condition and remained hospitalized overnight for observation. Two civilians were treated and released at the scene for minor smoke inhalation.

Once the secondary fires burning in the walls were doused, firefighters drained about 4 1/2 feet of water from the basement to allow arson investigators to search for the fire's cause.

Capt. Bruce Hoxsey said there were numerous electrical appliances stored in the basement, and fire inspectors investigated the possibility the fire started electrically.

Basement fires are difficult to fight anyway, but this hotel fire was all the more difficult, Hoxsey said, because firefighters were up to their chests in water. "It's probably the most dangerous fire you can fight because you're going down into the fire and smoke, which is coming up at you."

It was not immediately determined when the residents would be allowed back inside the hotel.

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