By Steve Large

LODI (CBS13) – A residential hotel fire in Lodi has left dozens of people homeless and firefighters investigating reports that no fire alarms went off in the building.

At least 40 people are at a Red Cross shelter tonight after escaping the flames, including 13-year-old Lodi Middle School student Christian Martinez, who saved his backpack from the flames.

“The most important thing you need in school is a science book to do your homework with,” Martinez said.

It’s what he valued most, as flames broke out in his home. Martinez and his father ran to safety together.

“It was the first time I’ve ever been in a fire like that,” Anthony Martinez said. “It was just fast, everything happened fast.”

The pair is among the dozens of evacuees who were living in the Star Hotel in Lodi, and who lost almost everything but were able to survive.

“This is a devastating, devastating day,” Red Cross Spokesperson Steve Walsh said.

The Red Cross is now providing food and beds to 40 of the displaced hotel residents.

“We provide them with comfort care, food, water, and someone to talk to,” Walsh said.

Denise O’Connell is another evacuee. She woke up to smoke and was the last one out of the hotel. O’Connell says the building was not safe.

“No alarms, no alarms waking us,” O’Connell said, “That’s for sure.”

Investigators believe the fire started on the second floor and spread to the third floor. They are investigating reports there were no fire alarms.

A Lodi Fire Department spokesperson said drug paraphernalia was found scattered throughout the building and that fire crews were accustomed to responding to the building several times a week for medical calls.

“Thank god that we got out safe and we’re here right now,” Anthony Martinez said.

A residential hotel fire that forced dozens to run for their lives.

Now, where will these survivors go next?

We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Anthony Martinez said. “Get my son back to school. Find another place to live.”


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