Santa Cruz motel fire displaces 69 guests

An electrical malfunction is being blamed for a two-alarm fire early Sunday morning that caused about $120,000 in damage to the Torch Lite Inn motel on Riverside Avenue near the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

The Santa Cruz Fire Department and the Central Fire Protection District responded to the fire, called in at 2:09 a.m. Firefighters arrived to see heavy smoke coming from the roof and eaves of the two-story motel. Santa Cruz police were rousing motel guests to evacuate them, according fire officials.

Sixty-nine people were evacuated from the rooms there, and no one was injured, fire officials said.

Firefighters cut holes in the motel roof to allow superheated gases to escape from the attic where the fire was confirmed to be located. It took firefighters about 45 minutes to put out the blaze.

The American Red Cross is assisting motel guests with alternative overnight housing, plus food and water. All motel occupants were escorted back into their rooms to recover valuables and belongings, Coleman said.