The Saddleback Inn is burning to the ground tonight. The fire is incredible. It is being reported live on Channel 11 News, at this link.
The owner of the Saddleback Inn issued eviction notices to his residents in July of last year, as we reported here.
The City of Santa Ana encouraged the owner of the Saddleback Inn to convert his hotel to apartments, as he had a lot of long-term tenants there. For safety reasons, the City planning agency wanted him to improve the property, or convert it. He chose to evict everyone instead.
I don’t know what caused this fire, but if the buildings were empty it is not hard to believe that a transient may have set a fire, to stay warm. This happens a lot with empty buildings.
The Santa Ana Fire Department will likely look into this to see if arson was involved. The owner will surely benefit from having the structures burn down. His insurance will pay for new buildings. The FBI might even have a look at this one, if the local public safety officials feel it is warranted.
The Saddleback Inn is located at 1655 E. 1st St., not far from the Santa Ana Zoo and the Elks Lodge.
UPDATE: Firefighters brought the blaze under control within an hour, using water cannons to douse the flames from above, according to the O.C. Register, which also reported that the flames were largely confined to the third floor and attic of the building.
About 60 firefighters from the Santa Ana, Costa Mesa and Garden Grove fire departments, as well as the Orange County Fire Authority, helped put out the fire.