A fire, allegedly started by a 45-year-old drunk male resident who was smoking in bed, caused about $500,000 in damage at a six-unit motel complex in Buellton Thursday morning. According to authorities, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department responded at 7:40 a.m. to reports of a fire at the Farmhouse Motel, 590 Avenue of the Flags. Six fire engine companies, one air and lighting support unit, one battalion chief and one division chief arrived to find the single story complex engulfed in flames. Residents were outside when fire officials arrived, by which time the fire had spread to two adjacent buildings. None of the building’s ten residents were inside the units at the time, and the fire was knocked down within 20 minutes.
There was one minor injury sustained by a resident, and no injuries to the 25 firefighters who responded. The man alleged to have started the fire was found by responding sheriff’s deputies to be drunk to the point of intoxication, and was arrested. Authorities are ruling the fire accidental, and will not be charging the man with arson. The American Red Cross was called to help displaced occupants.