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Fire that caused an estimated $550,000 in damages most likely accidental, OCFA spokesman confirms

Orange County Fire Authority crews respond to a fire at the Dana Point Harbor Inn Feb. 11. Photo by Jack Spear
Orange County Fire Authority crews respond to a fire at the Dana Point Harbor Inn Feb. 11. Photo by Jack Spear

By Andrea Papagianis

Investigators are calling the Dana Point Harbor Inn blaze last week “accidental” and likely caused by ongoing construction work, according to an Orange County Fire Authority official.

A vacant building of the two-story motel on Pacific Coast Highway and Dana Point Harbor Drive caught fire at about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, causing $550,000 in damages. About 85 firefighters responded to the call. The hotel was red-tagged by the city in November after rotted sewage lines were discovered leaking waste water into the ground.

Of the motel’s two buildings, one had been reopened to guests. The sewage problems in the northern building were resolved and about 30 guests were displaced by the fire, as the city shutoff all utilities. The vacant southern building, where the fire occurred, was still weeks or months away from completion, said city building official Mark Sutton.

The day of the fire, plumbers were onsite soldering water pipes, said Capt. Steve Concialdi, spokesman for the Orange County Fire Authority. Their work is believed to be the fire’s source, Concialdi confirmed. No workers were on-site when the fire broke out.

The fire began in a bottom unit of the motel’s southern building, which was vacant and undergoing renovations, Concialdi confirmed. Flames spread upward, climbing up walls and floors, before entering an attic that spread across the building. Of the building’s 22 units, 10 were damaged by either fire, water or smoke, he said.

“The aggressive actions of our firefighters kept the fire from running the common attic and they kept the damage to just 10 units,” Concialdi said. “This could have been far worse. We could have lost the entire building had the fire had run the entire attic.”

Authorities estimate $450,000 in structural and $100,000 in content damages were sustained.

No injuries were reported, and OCFA crews had the fire contained by 9:07 p.m.

Beverly Hills Hospitality Group, the Doheny Hotel developer, owns the property. If plans for the more than 250-room, five-story hotel gain Planning Commission and City Council approval, the inn, Jack and the Box and vacant storefront on three adjoining lots could be demolished.

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