A man was killed and others were injured in a motel fire in Wilmington early Thursday that forced some residents to escape by jumping out of second-floor windows.
The blaze broke out just after 3 a.m. at the two-story Wilmington Hotel on 100 East C Street. It has been deemed a crime scene due to the speed with which the flames spread to both floors, with fire officials deeming the blaze suspicious.
Twenty-nine people were in the building at the time of the fire. Fifteen people were treated for injuries at the scene, 12 were hospitalized.
One of those hurt was a child.
When firemen tried to get in at the front of the building they were met by a fireball, and tried to climb a fence to get access through the back. People were trapped inside during the fire, with some jumping out of windows to escape in a scene described as "chaotic and scary."
"There was nothing we could really do... (there were) big men and big women jumping out. There was nothing we could do to cushion the fall or nothing," resident Manuel Sanchez said, "People were banging their heads on the ground (and) breaking their arms."
Paul Gordon was sleeping inside on the first floor when he was alerted to the fire by smoke alarms.
"I opened the door to see what was going on and flames just rushed into my room," he said, "I was able to close the door to keep the flames out, but the smoke was getting lower and lower. The only thing I could do was... grab my phone and jump out of the windows."
Once he was outside he did his best to help victims who were injured when making their escape.
"It was total chaos, just crazy. There were people running everywhere screaming (and) jumping out of windows. It was terrifying," Gordon added.
The hotel has 20 units and 29 occupants, and the Red Cross and Los Angeles City Council member Joe Buscaino are assisting the non-injured displaced occupants.
The cause of the fire is still unknown. Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters called a knockdown on the blaze at 4:08 a.m. Fire officials described the fire as "suspicious."
Kevin LaBeach contributed to this report