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Updated: 17 People Injured in Major Structure Fire at Stag Hotel

Seven-alarm fire resulted in numerous severe injuries and three airlifts.

Updated 11:33 p.m: The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, and investigation has ceased until tomorrow morning. Tomorrow the Watsonville Fire Department will resume investigation.

"Basically we will take all of the contents that were in the room and put them back in the room where it was originally, and then we look at the burn patterns and it basically gives us a better idea of the origin of where the fire began. It's like a puzzle," said Captain Pablo Barreto of the Watsonville Fire Department.

Patch will post an updated account of the cause of today's fire as soon as it has been determined, so please check back.

Seventeen people have been injured in a major structure fire that occurred at the on 117 W. Beach Street, the Watsonville Police Department reported at 7 p.m. Monday. 

Injuries include severe fractures, smoke inhalation, and respiratory injuries, according to Watsonville Fire Department Spokesperson Rosa Meyer.

The two-alarm fire is taking place throughout the two-story building, according to emergency dispatchers. They are responding to the fire, and have not yet investigated the cause.

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. 

By 6:30 p.m. there were still around 10 patients who were waiting to be taken to the hospital. 

One man, Jesse Carranco, jumped out of a second story window and landed on his lower back. 

"There was too much smoke in there, I couldn't see anything," said Carranco, who said he was in great pain as he waited quietly with a paramedic at his side. 

Pajaro Valley and Watsonville Fire Fighters gave patients one-on-one treatment, and pure oxygen as they waited for the next wave of ambulances to arrive. 

"There is a myriad of different injuries," said Scott Agnelli, Captain of the Pajaro Valley Fire Department. "We classify this as a mass-casualty incident, because there are so many injuries. We investigate who has the most critical, most serious injuries, and they get transported first, and eventually we get everyone." 

The patients waiting to be transported to the hospital had blackened faces from the smoke and most of them were receiving oxygen, which Agnelli explained "is providing 100 percent oxygen to the lungs instead of whatever else in the air that he [they] would be breathing."

The Stag Hotel is a multiple-use facility used for transitional housing—people who are undergoing substance abuse treatment or who are reentering society after incarceration, according to Watonville Police Chief Manny Solano.

There are about 50 rooms in the hotel.

"I took off to Subway, and when I returned five to 10 minutes later the building was in flames," said manager Russell Rickman. 

About 10 Police officers from Watsonville Police Department joined the two fire departments.

"I like how everyone just came together," said Sgt. Angel Calderon, a first responder to the scene. "Even the residents were trying to help out, trying to pull people out." 

Responders to today's fire included CAL Fire units, North County, Pajaro Dunes, Pajaro Valley, Aptos Fire, Central Fire, Felton Fire, and Watsonville Fire Departments, as well as Watsonville and Salinas Police Departments and the Monterey County Sheriff's Department, according to Captian Pablo Barreto of Watsonville Fire Department.

--Additional reporting by Juan Reyes.

randy May 02, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Just watched on RIGHT THIS MINUTE the video of The Stag fire. What praise the officers and firemen received Also the citizens of Watsonville for stepping up.
randy May 03, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Wetland. Lot to that mysterious KME. Actually a 225,000 was made out on 4/29/08 for a 1992 Pierce Lance. It seems that Pasadena had the 1999 KME that was nothing but trouble. It sat for a long time. They were unable to use it. Several reasons. Can just hear the salesman " Hey Carlos, I have a truck 7 years newer for you. Will give to you for SAME PRICE." Pasadena took the Pierce Lance and we got their broken down KME. That is kinda how I understand it. Where is the truck now. Still being worked on. Ask any fireman if he wants to drive it? you may want to read this site. http://watsonvillefishingreport.com/ This is the opinion of THIS poster
Jennifer Squires May 03, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Here's the last we've reported on the fire truck. Seems like it's time for an update. http://watsonville.patch.com/articles/awol-fire-truck-may-start-work-this-month
Bill May 23, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Bill N I think the Watsonville Police and Fire did a outstanding job. I was there for six hours. Deputy Police Chief Robert Knill went into the hotel several time and got medicine for some of the residents. Police Chief Solano was there to manage the Command Post and Park & Community Service Director Ann Espinoza was there very late driving residents to the hotel. So we all should be thankful for the Watsonville Fire, Police, Parks & Community Services, Red Cross, Watsonville Police Cadets and CSO's and all the others who was there to help.
Bill May 23, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Bill N I think the Watsonville Police and Fire did a outstanding job. I was there for six hours. Deputy Police Chief Robert Knill went into the hotel several time and got medicine for some of the residents. Police Chief Solano was there to manage the Command Post and Park & Community Service Director Ann Espinoza was there very late driving residents to the hotel. So we all should be thankful for the Watsonville Fire, Police, Parks & Community Services, Red Cross, Watsonville Police Cadets and CSO's and all the others who was there to help.

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