The cause of a hotel fire that killed one person and injured 15 others, including some who jumped from a second story to escape, is considered suspicious, reports The Associated Press.
Arson investigators were looking into the early morning blaze that engulfed the two-story residential hotel near the harbor in the Wilmington area, Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said.
Firefighters who arrived minutes after the blaze was reported found flames shooting from the building.
“It is suspicious after seeing how fast the fire spread,” Scott said.
A man staying on the first floor of the 20-unit building died at the scene. Two people were hospitalized with injuries that were moderate to serious, and 10 others went to hospitals with minor injuries.
There were no burns and most of the injuries were to the legs of people who jumped from the second story, a Fire Department statement said.
“We had people in the windows and starting to jump,” fire Capt. Daniel Curry told KNX Radio. “The first thing we had to do was start throwing ladders at the building and pick people off the second floor.”
Resident Paul Gordon told KABC-TV that he opened his door and “flames came in, just rushed into my room” before he fled out a window.
A child about 8 was among those hurt, Scott said.
It took more than 100 firefighters about an hour to extinguish the blaze at the building that officials said was equipped with functional smoke alarms.
The Red Cross was providing assistance to more than 15 people displaced from the hotel.