Motel fire forces evacuations, leads to arrest - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Motel fire forces evacuations, leads to arrest

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ESCONDIDO (CNS/CBS 8) - A two-alarm fire at an Escondido motel early Friday displaced about 20 guests and left the occupant of the room in which it started facing drug charges and a second person sought by police.

Someone flagged down a police officer shortly after fire broke out at the Hacienda Motel on North Broadway near East Mission Avenue. Police officers began evacuating occupants shortly after midnight as firefighters were en route, according to Escondido police and fire officials.

Fire crews arriving to the two-story motel saw flames from a fully involved second floor unit spreading to a neighboring room, according to Battalion Chief Mike Bertrand of the Escondido Fire Department. At that point, firefighters summoned additional units.

Bertrand said firefighters from Escondido and San Marcos had the blaze under control in about 40 minutes and kept it contained to the two rooms.

However, several other motel rooms sustained smoke and water damage.

One woman says her family was about to go to sleep when heavy black smoke filled the air and things became very dramatic.

"I see smoke coming from the door and he opened it and the lady is on fire or her clothes were on fire and she's saying crazy cuss words and stuff like that," Ashley Buechler, a motel guest said.

The fire was deemed suspicious. Investigators looking into the cause of the fire contacted the 33-year-old occupant of the room in which the fire started - identified as Treasure Rosemary Pluma of Escondido - and placed her under arrest after it was suspected she was under the influence of drugs, Escondido police Lt. Eric Skaja said.

Authorities also sought a man seen inside the same room attempting to extinguish the flames because he may have information pertinent to their investigation, Skaja said. A description of the man was not available.

Skaja said no arson charges had been filed by mid-morning, but the investigation was ongoing.

A police officer and an occupant suffered minor smoke inhalation and were treated at the scene, according to the battalion chief. The American Red Cross was summoned to assist the about 20 motel guests left displaced after the fire.The fire's cause remained under investigation and a financial estimate of the damage was not immediately available.

Anyone with additional information regarding the fire was asked to call Escondido police Detective Vander Vorst at (760) 839-4786.


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