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Fire damages exterior of Ashland motel

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A Friday morning two-alarm fire damaged the exterior of the Super 8 Motel in Ashland, but no one was injured, according to Ashland Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Kelly Burns.

The rear exterior was engulfed in a "well-developed fire" when the fire crews arrived on scene just after 10 a.m., Burns said, but crews had it extinguished within 7 minutes.

"I was told the firefighter had the hose out and ready before the water was turned on, and that doesn’t happen often," Burns said.

Super 8 employee Alvaro Valereo said he was cleaning a bedroom on the third floor when he noticed smoke through a window.

He said he immediately ran downstairs and grabbed a garden hose to try to put the fire out, but it was too windy, and the hose didn’t work properly.

He said he then alerted the front desk to call 9-1-1.

Ashland Fire and Rescue, Fire District Five and Ashland Police responded to the two-alarm fire.

A debris pile on the backside of the building caught fire and the flames grew until they reached the attic, Burns said.

A member of the motel’s management team, Mukesh Patel, said he has received complaints of transients hanging around that area. He said staff has picked up cigarette packs and he wonders if someone flicked a cigarette butt into the debris pile.

The debris pile was mostly old furniture accumulating from a renovation, Patel said. He said the electrical system in the building is up to code, so he doesn’t think that was the origin.

Valereo said he’s seen transients sleeping behind the building the last couple of days.

Burns said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Fire crews tore down an extensive amount of siding to ensure the fire wouldn’t re-ignite from heat trapped in the walls.

Patel said the fire did not enter inside the building and luckily the damage was only to the exterior. He said there weren’t many occupants inside because it’s the off season.

Burns said he suspects people can re-enter the motel later today, but it is ultimately up to the fire inspector.

He said it’s lucky that there was a slight drizzle because it gave the crews time to arrive on scene.

“If this had happened in the summer, it would have been a completely different story,” Burns said. “The fire would have been twice as big.”

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneA firefighter breaks through the wall at the top of stairs of the south end of Super 8 hotel Friday morning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneA firefighter breaks through the wall at the top of stairs of the south end of Super 8 hotel Friday morning.