Valley Motel owners Tom and his daughter Martha say they are more concerned for their tenants after a fire completely destroyed their motel. The residents were all long-term tenants that lived in the fully furnished apartments.
EAST BLOOMFIELD — Thursday morning's devastating fire at the Valley Motel on Routes 5 and 20 left 11 people homeless, and has the owners worrying about their tenants' future.
“Our concern is about the tenants, many don’t have insurance and lost everything,” said co-owner Tom Baker, 68. The motel owners also own the neighboring Furniture Doctor.
Eleven occupants displaced by the fire include two families who are being assisted by the American Red Cross, which is providing temporary housing at a local hotel. One of the families has two teenage daughters; another has a toddler.
The Valley Motel was not really a motel anymore but was comprised of furnished apartments. The owners say the group was a tight-knit community.
“They have lived with us for years, they actually met here as neighbors living next door to each other, they ended up getting married and now have a baby together," Martha Baker, Furniture Doctor president and Tom Baker's daughter, said of one of the families. "My heart is just broken for the people that lived here.”
The fire started just early Thursday, just after midnight at the property at 7013 State Routes 5 and 20.
“When I first came outside to see what the commotion was there was just smoke,” said Martha Baker, 38. "I ran in to get the keys, and when I came back out there were flames everywhere — it was that quick.”
As soon as fire companies arrived they discovered heavy smoke coming from one of the apartments. Law enforcement went door to door evacuating all the apartments which were attached to one another. Sustained winds of up to 14 mph helped the fire spread rapidly, destroying all the units and making it difficult to subdue. One firefighter was taken to the hospital by ambulance for smoke inhalation.
A total of 13 fire companies responded to the scene, including East Bloomfield, West Bloomfield, Farmington, Ionia, Cheshire, Honeoye, Victor, Naples, Manchester, Bristol, Shortsville, Lima and Mendon.
The owners praised the work of the Red Cross, which they say arrived quickly to the scene.
"The Red Cross was terrific, a whole bunch came out here last night,” said Tom Baker. “They had vouchers and toiletries for everyone.”
The Bakers said that it’s too early to tell where the displaced residents will go from here.
“I just got off the phone with the insurance company,” said Tom, who added that the apartments were fully furnished and they were renovating a bathroom at the time of the fire. “For now we just want to make sure the tenants are okay."