By Carlos Correa

LODI (CBS13) – Firefighters are investigating whether the Star Hotel in Lodi had a working fire alarm system when it was almost burned to the ground.

The downtown residential structure housed about 50 people. Firefighters say none of the tenants were injured, but all have been displaced.

Amber Elliott, 41, says she noticed something strange about her unit, a home she shared with her husband, and dog Chase.

“I seen that there is no smoke alarm in my room, and they were supposed to replace that and it never happened,” she said.

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Elliott is one of the tenants who lost everything except the clothes on her back.  She doesn’t remember hearing any of the alarms in the building going off during the two-alarm fire.

“I heard somebody kick my door open and my husband and I jumped up and were, like, startled.  We heard somebody in the hallway screaming ‘get out,’ ‘get out there’s a fire,’ ‘there’s a fire,’’ she said.

Surveillance video from across the street shows tenants walking out of the structure and gathering in front of the hotel before firefighters arrived.

“The building is not required to have fire sprinklers, but fire alarms are required.  As of this time, it is under investigation still if fire alarms were working at the time,” Gene Stoddart, interim fire chief of the Lodi Fire Department.

The three-story hotel which was built in the 1900s was inspected by firefighters every year.  Firefighters say the structure did not have any previous fire code violations.  They say this tragedy serves as a reminder for everyone to be fire ready.

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“We could learn that fire spreads rapidly, that you need to practice ways out of your home in the event your home catches on fire, you need to ensure that smoke detectors are working and fire alarms are working,” he said.

Our calls to the building owner have not been returned.  We checked with code enforcement officers who say the facility did not have any prior violations.  Firefighters tell me they hope to have the investigation wrapped up by Monday.


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