A multi-alarm fire of suspicious origin broke out today at a Wilmington motel, killing a man and injuring 15 other people, including some who leaped out of windows in a desperate effort to escape intense flames and who suffered fractures on hitting the ground.
The fire was reported in the Wilmington Motel, 111 East C Street, at about 3:15 a.m., said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott. An 8-year-old child was among those injured, he said.
Arson investigators were on the scene this morning because fire commanders said they suspect the fire was intentionally set, given the speed at which the blaze moved, Scott said. The building was equipped with "functional smoke alarms" but a number of motel residents said they did not hear the smoke alarms, he said.
A damage estimate was not immediately available.
A motel guest told NBC4 he was awakened by smoke alarms and a voice saying, "It's burning!' "
The guest said he opened the door of his room and flames "came rushing in.'' The guest said he escaped his room through a window, as did others, suffering injuries in the process.
"It was terrifying,'' the guest said.
Scott said the blaze was fought by more than 100 firefighters and knocked down in 50 minutes.
Of those injured, 12 were hospitalized, two with moderate to serious injuries; three people declined treatment, Scott said.
The deceased victim was found inside the two-story motel, which had 29 occupants in its 20 units, Scott said.
This story was updated.