LA MESA (CNS) - A raging predawn fire engulfed a La Mesa hotel Tuesday, destroying the structure and sending the occupants of 17 rented rooms fleeing for their lives but causing no reported injuries.

The Rodeway Inn on Spring Street near Palm Avenue went up in flames for unknown reasons about 4:45 a.m., according to Heartland Fire & Rescue. It took crews about 40 minutes to extinguish the flames, agency spokeswoman Monica Zech said.

The two-story hotel was considered a complete loss, according to fire officials, who estimated the damage at $1.5 million.

Considering the large amount of water it took to put out the inferno, coupled with today's rains, it was unclear exactly when investigators would likely would be able to enter the gutted building and begin working to pin down the cause of the blaze.

Preliminary evidence suggested that the fire erupted either on the second floor of the structure or in the attic.

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