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UPDATED – Must see pre-arrival video: 17 people hurt at Watsonville, CA's Stag Hotel fire. Police on first hose line. Civilians, cops, firefighters make rescues.

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Watsonville Fire Department

This is as dramatic a video as we’ve seen in some time. It is best viewed in full screen and at the 480p quality (the star at the bottom right group of controls).

The fire broke out around 5:45 PM at the Stag Hotel in Watsonville, California. The hotel is at 117 West Beach Street. The injuries, according to news reports, include burns, smoke inhalation and fractures.

In the video it appears police and civilians are making some of the initial rescues using a ladder on Side A. Firefighters arrive, stretch a line and assist with getting others out. It appears that a police officer picks up the first line hitting the fire on the ground floor. Others are brought down a ladder on Side D.

The Stag Hotel is described as transitional housing for those receiving substance abuse treatment and those leaving incarceration.

Rachel Stern & Maria Grusauskas, WatsonvillePatch.com:

Three victims of the fire were air lifted out of the area, one for a broken leg from jumping out a window, and the other two for major burns.

“The first guy got burned pretty bad. They took him away first because his hide was falling off. His shirt was smoking,” said Russell Leckbee, a resident in room 37 of the hotel.

Leckbee had been dragged out of a window by two police officers.

Donna Jones, MercuryNews.com:

Firefighters from the station a block away on Second Street responded quickly, Rickman said. Fire Chief Mark Bisbee said they immediately went to work rescuing residents and doused the flames in 8-10 minutes.

Rickman said the hotel has 50 rooms – three apartments in two buildings. He said about 45 men lived there. The fire was in the larger front building.

The building, constructed in 1927, had no sprinklers. The residents are a mix, some disabled, some struggling with substance abuse or in recovery, some on parole. All are men with little income.

 Tom Dunlap, Tarm Hannula Register-Pajaronian.com

Many bystanders helped police and firefighters get people out of the burning building or helped with ladders and hoses.

One man reportedly jumped from the second-story window to avoid the smoke and fire. Other residents said they considered jumping from the second story.

“I stuck my head out the bathroom window,” said Rick Cresswell, whose face was blackened from the smoke. “I thought about jumping.”  

Bing Maps Bird’s Eye View shows Watsonville Station 1 & Stag Hotel.

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