Ninth Street motel in Modesto burns, leaving 9 homeless

04/26/2014 7:20 PM

04/27/2014 4:04 PM

An early-morning fire destroyed four vacant rooms and a storage unit of Shiva’s Motel in the 700 block of South Ninth Street on Saturday.

No injuries were reported. The Red Cross was finding temporary shelter for nine adults living at the complex because power was cut off, said Ceres Fire Department Battalion Chief Rich Scola.

Firefighters called to the scene at 5:23 a.m. found the two-story structure ablaze and focused on saving an adjacent commercial building, Scola said. The commercial building sustained about $5,000 in damage. Damage was estimated at $75,000 to the motel.

The fire drew six fire engines and 21 firefighters, and two chief officers from the Ceres, Modesto Regional Fire Authority and Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District, Scola said. Turlock Irrigation District and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. workers came to secure electric and gas lines into the facility.

Modesto Battalion Chief Randy Anderson said the fire took an hour to fully control.

The motel has been the scene of numerous problems in recent years.

It suffered heavy fire damage in January 2013 when a candle being used for heat was knocked over, caught blankets on fire and spread to three units before being put out. That blaze caused an estimated $150,000 in damage and displaced 14 residents.

One man died in a shooting outside the hotel in February 2012. Larry Eugene Smith, 37, died from gunshot wounds in the motel parking lot. A suspect was arrested but later released for lack of evidence.

Through 2012, the motel posted the highest number of calls, 165, of any location in Stanislaus County, the Sheriff’s Department reported. Deputies and other agencies went there 14 times a month that year for incidents, including the homicide, strong-arm robbery, a structure fire, fights, battery, petty theft and drug violations.

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