SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- Fire officials are still investigating what caused a fire at a two-story hotel in South Lake Tahoe Wednesday night. It caused an estimated $2.5 million in damage and sent two people to the hospital.
Officials said the fire started around 11:45 p.m. at the Deerfield Lodge on Ski Run Boulevard, about one mile from Harrah's and Harvey's Casinos.
Some families lost everything they had with them. "Extremely scary, extremely scary," said victim Pascal Beyaert.
Beyaert is visiting with his family from Belgium and said it is his first time in Lake Tahoe. Beyaert said he is lucky to be alive after the fire nearly burned down the hotel. "I have to thank the firefighters and police."
In total, 36 people were evacuated and relocated to a different hotel. Officials said the blaze completely destroyed 6 units and 5 cars, but the cause is still being investigated. "We believe it started in the upper units, perhaps in the center, but again, we're not a 100 percent certain on that," said South Lake Tahoe Fire Chief Jeff Meston.
Meston said there was so much smoke coming from the hotel that it was hard for crews to get inside to rescue people. He said two people actually escaped by jumping off the second floor. "The two people that jumped, our paramedics took them to Barton (Memorial Hospital), and they were treated there and remain there."
Meston also said 6 people completely lost everything they had with them at the hotel. "Right now, we have people that have no possessions whatsoever, they lost everything in the fire. Some of them are from out of country, so we’re trying to do the best that we can to make sure that the rest of their stay in South Lake Tahoe is tolerable, if not enjoyable."
Meston said crews will be at the hotel all day Thursday, combing through debris to try and determine the cause of the fire.
If you would like to donate to anyone affected, Meston said the city is accepting donations. To see where you can donate, click here