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Fire destroys new hotel

May 06, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

El Centro fire investigators suspect arson may have been the cause of a fire that burned down a 32-room hotel under construction in El Centro.

The Comfort Inn & Suites, next to Casa Real Inn & Suites on Wake Avenue, was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived to battle the blaze at midnight Sunday, said El Centro fire Capt. David Hudson.

The $2.5 million to $3 million project, which was going to be an extended-stay hotel, was destroyed as the fire burned from one end of the hotel to the other. It also burned about 15 vehicles parked behind the Casa Real Inn.

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Hudson said the fire is under investigation. He added investigators think it was an act of arson because the building had no electricity connected to it and no one had been working on it all day.

He said it took about 30 minutes to control the fire and about two hours to extinguish it. The blaze caused other smaller fires to spread to surrounding areas but those were quickly extinguished.

Fire units from the Holtville, Calexico, Imperial County and Centinela State Prison departments responded to the fire as well as two engines from El Centro.

Construction on the hotel started about two months ago. It was to have been three stories high with three rooms with two bedrooms, eight with one bedroom and 41 studios. All the units were to be in 18th century decor and be built around a central courtyard and barbecue pit. Each room was to have a kitchen completely equipped with cooking and eating utensils and a built-in eating bar.

The motel was expected to create about eight new jobs.

No information was available on whether the company behind the project would start building the motel again.

>>Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

>>Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez contributed to this story.

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