Man panicked during downtown hotel fire

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SAN DIEGO – One of the seven victims who were medically treated after a fire sparked in a hotel in downtown San Diego Monday described waking up to a smoke filled room.

Kevin Campbell was on the third floor of the Hotel Heritage at 547 Ninth Ave. between Market St. and Island Ave. in the East Village when his room started to fill with smoke around 2 a.m. Monday.

“I started yelling ‘help!’ and I panicked,” Campbell said. “I couldn’t see past a half of a foot in front of me because the smoke was so thick.”

Campbell said he felt his way around the floor, but by the time he made it to the second floor it was engulfed with flames.

There was a lot of panic from people inside the hotel and some of them felt their best chance to safety was to jump, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Maurice Luque said.  Three victims jumped from the second story, one suffered serious injuries to the lower half of the body. Their conditions were unknown.

Campbell was one of four victims who suffered from smoke inhalation.  All but one were transported to UCSD Medical Center, Luque said. They were later released.

Authorities said the fire started by accident, but didn’t release the cause.  SDFRD noted that the hotel was in-compliance with fire codes.

Campbell and other victims received assistance from the American Red Cross.