Oct 14, 2013 7:05 PM by April Hansen, KSBY
More than 50 people are homeless after an arson fire at a Santa Maria hotel this weekend.
57-year-old Amos Andrews was arrested in connection with the Saturday morning's fire for arson and attempted murder.
Crews responded to the fire on the 200 block of North Broadway.
When they arrived on scene, the first floor was on fire and was working its way to the second floor.
Rescue crews evacuated as many people as they could out the front door before smoke conditions forced them out.
The manager of the inn told KSBY that Andrews is a former maintenance worker for the inn. He was let go a few weeks ago.
KSBY spoke with some of the survivors that are set up at the Minami Community Center.
Many say they are thankful they made it out.
Elvis Nave and John Caraway have a similar story.
They both lost their home in the same fire. "We are scared. We are homeless," said Caraway.
"People were saying fire. I was like what? Fire?" said Nave.
Caraway lived on the second floor with his fiancé.
"It was bad. They wanted us to jump out the windows. It was so bad," said Caraway.
He says that wasn't an option because he has a prosthetic leg, so they went through the door.
"The smoke was so horrible. It was bad, really, really bad," said Caraway.
Nave says he had to climb out the window.
"I tried to open the door and smoke just came blowing in my face. Not a little bit. It was basically black, blacker then black," said Nave.
"If you look down this side on the third floor, we had four different people hanging out of the third floor with heavy smoke coming over the top of him," said Santa Maria Fire Chief Dan Orr.
Chief Orr says crews went into rescue mode and used two ladder trucks to get people out from the top floors.
"The fire traveled through this structure extremely quickly. It's a very old structure. It has been remodeled many times. It has got a lot of void spaces. The fire went to the first to the third very quickly," said Chief Orr.
Nave and Caraway say they lost everything, but are thankful they are alive.
"Thankfully no one got killed," said Caraway.
The local Red Cross chapter is running the shelter for the 57 people who are homeless.
HOW TO HELP: Your financial gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters.
Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief.
To make a donation, visit www.redcross.org/, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word "REDCROSS" to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter at:
Red Cross Santa Barbara
2707 State St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Red Cross San Luis Obispo
225 Prado Road, #A
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
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