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.

Redwoodgirl May 01, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Bummer!! That is more residential, right?
randy May 01, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Steve.. heard that 12 injuries. this is sad.
Parents of Alyssa May 01, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Sad story people shouldn't have to jump to save there lives
Parents of Alyssa May 01, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Sad story people shouldn't have to Jump to save there lives.
Alyssa Torres May 01, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Paramedics need to work on getting patients to the hospital in a decent matter of time. Burn victims need to be a first priority, and they are classified that. They should not have to lay in a line to WAIT. Im disappointed in The City of Watsonville and there actions to emergency response. This is just my opinion and I do not feel safe in this city.
Alyssa Torres May 01, 2012 at 03:27 AM
I see spectators in these pictures sitting in chairs and watching! This is sad and these pictures should not be posted. A lot of people just standing around trying to look important but nothing is being done! Such a sad incident!
Parents of Alyssa May 01, 2012 at 03:28 AM
I see a lot of firefighters with there hands on there waist in these pictures y wouldn't they transport people in there fire trucks? Y didn't we get assistance from Santa Cruz to transport people?
Maria Grusauskas May 01, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Jose, I was there and if there were fire fighters with their hands on their waists it's only because there were fleets of fire fighters and paramedics behind the building tending to the injured while the others were left to figure out how to best secure the building and put out the fire. I wouldn't be so quick to criticize people who are devoted to saving your life.. People jumped because the fire started before the fire fighters arrived, and they needed to escape the smoke.
John G May 01, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Fire and paramedics did the best they could. The ambulances did a stellar job hustling back and forth transporting patients to the hospital. Did you know that there is only 6 ambulances that service this county, from boulder creek and the north coast to watsonville? Today they took the most critical, then went down the line. That is the way a mass casualty works. No matter where you go there will never be enough vehicles to transport in a mass casualty hence why there are special protocols. Fire did a great job taking care of the less critical at the scene. Good job all around for the quick response and control of the scene.
Dave Martone May 01, 2012 at 05:08 AM
You really cant tell what is going on from a few pictures and it is irresponsible to critisize without getting your facts straight. There are only so many ambulances in this county and I guarantee that all of the victims were triaged and given the best care possile. They were also transported appropriatly to the right facility either Watsonville, Dominican, or a trauma center. The system for Incident Command as.well as EMS in this County works well and is constantly updated and improved. And no, fire trucks are not an approptiate means of transporting burn victims to a hospital. Those firefighters "standing around" may have just gone through 2air bottles in 40 minutes working in hot and smoke filled conditions and are in a mandatory rehab area so they too dont become victims of heat exhaustion.
Dave Martone May 01, 2012 at 05:10 AM
I am sure if you want to learn more about ICS, mass casualty incidents, mutual aid and EMS in Santa Cruz County just go to your local Fire Department and ask.
Maria Grusauskas May 01, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Alyssa, these photos were taken after the initial rescues were made. the severe burn victims were already long gone, air lifted to the trauma center. there were no spectators sitting in chairs, some officers brought chairs for the residents to sit in as they waited to be transported to the hospital as well, and as they received treatment. Sad, yes, but this is also an amazing display of how well our firefighters and police officers work together to save peoples lives. had they not shown up there would have been many fatalities.
Watzon McWats May 01, 2012 at 05:52 AM
@Alyssa Torres Watsonville isn't accustomed to this type of mass injury incident. It'd be different if this were a big city, but it's a small town with only a handful of paramedics. I know it's a bummer. Just stating the facts. I can't say for certain in this case, but paramedics are also usually employed by private companies - not the city. They are not government employees like firefighters or police.
Watzon McWats May 01, 2012 at 05:55 AM
RE: "standing there with their hands on their waists" type comments. Sometimes it's hard to see the bigger picture as a passer by. I wouldn't be so quick to judge.
Hillofbeans May 01, 2012 at 06:09 AM
Don't judge when you don't know the facts. It makes you look bitter. Those guys are putting their lives on the line to save lives in a triage format, how they were trained to do! And I concur fire trucks do not transport patients.
Hector Rodriguez May 01, 2012 at 08:22 AM
Sad to read this kind of comments. I was very close to the area when the fire started, it got out of control very fast. But the response of the WPD and the fire dept. was just as fast. I know our town is not 100% ready for this kind of incidents, but the response was excellent
Maria Grusauskas May 01, 2012 at 08:26 AM
Watzon, I don't think there were any paramedics employed from outside the city, but i will ask the Watsonville Fire Capt tomorrow. All of the EMTs and Paramedics that i saw helping the victims were from the nearest Fire Departments..
Jennifer May 01, 2012 at 08:30 AM
Alyssa, there is no way of knowing the timeline from looking at literal snapshots in time. These firefighters, police officers and medics train for events such as these. Triaging is a huge part of managing "mass-casualty" incidents. Those with severe burns, respiratory burns and inhalation injuries will always be transported first. Those that were "left in line to wait" were stable enough to do so. It's just like going to the ER - it's usually not physically possible to see and treat everyone at the same time, so yes some people wait while the more critical patients are taken care of. A large fire such as this will always have firefighters rotating in and out, as Dave pointed out, they need rest too. Dragging a hose and heavy gear through a burning building is exhausting work, and the speed in which this fire was controlled was impressive to say the least. Instead of "not feeling safe", feel thankful that there are so many people willing to put their lives on the line for complete strangers.
John G May 01, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Maria, there were paramedics employed by a private party which is american medical response. They have a contract with the county for ALS service (all the 911 calls). Fire also has fire/ paramedics but they work on the engine and do not transport, they set up the triage as amr transported.
Ruby Hernandez May 01, 2012 at 01:42 PM
So many negative people out there, do quick to judge! People need to get their info correct before they start posting negativity.... Just saying
randy May 01, 2012 at 02:19 PM
I would like those with such negative attitude to go to the fire department,,, put on the gear that these men and women wear, then carry a hose up the stairs into a building with the high pressure the hoses have and see how it is. It is very hard and difficult. Also the emotions of these dedicate men and women has to run pretty high when they know that there are people involved and they must make sure everyone is out I commend the people from the police to the fire to the other emergency personnel that was so swift to put this fire down and help prevent further injuries. Now I pray that the ones displaced will find another place SOON.
Hector Rodriguez May 01, 2012 at 06:36 PM
This will stop all the negative comments http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sAtvjW7jfVQ#!
*MAN UNITED* May 01, 2012 at 06:51 PM
I think our emergency personnel did a fine job with the resources that we have. Although its making me think about a FUTURE disaster with MASS injuries and all HELL breaking loose....If we only have 6 ambulances from Watsonville up to Boulder Creek, what is going to happen when we really have a MAJOR earthquake and fires and injuries are rampant all over town and other towns here in Santa Cruz County!?!?! Scary to think about....
Steve Bankhead May 01, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Hector Rodriguez: Thanks for posting the youtube clip. It clearly show how quickly the firefighters knocked down the flames. I couldn't tell due to the distance, but I think the person with shaved head and short-sleeved uniform first manning the hose might have been Matt Ryan. If so, there isn't a much stronger and experienced person in the department for that job.
randy May 01, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Great youtube Hector. this showed the fire and police working hand in hand doing what they have been trained for I believe I even saw police officer (s) dragging hose and using it until the fireman was in place In 1989 watsonville was hit with a major earthquake. I have strong faith that should our town suffer another disaster, we have not worries. Help from all around will be here and so will our well trained officers and fireman. This town needs NEW leadership. To me that is more of a problem then worrying about what if. This post is the STRONG opinion of this poster
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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