RIO VISTA — An early morning November fire that partially ripped through a troubled local motel on Highway 12 is still under investigation.
The fire at the 17-room Royal Inn, on the 600 block of Highway 12, is listed as “suspicious” and “undetermined,” said Capt. Ken Williams of the Rio Vista Fire Department.
“I can’t say it’s arson, but it’s suspicious,” he said.
The fire started in an unoccupied bedroom of the manager’s quarters. Williams said there was no reason for it to start in that location. Items such as carpet samples were sent to labs. They are still being tested, with no conclusive time as to when results will be in.
This was not the first fire at the motel, which was red-tagged at the time of the fire for code enforcement violations and nonpayment of utility bills, according to various city officials. The night before the Nov. 25, 2013, fire, there was a mattress fire in the condemned area of the establishment.
“It was really strange,” Williams said. He said that the incident was chalked up to a possible transient. Williams, who was on duty the day of the fire, said that “90 percent of the (motel) room doors and windows were busted.”
Williams said the Fire Department has talked to the insurance adjuster but said he doesn’t know what the owner plans to do with motel – demolish it or rehabilitate. Public Works Director Dave Melilli said he’s not aware of a next step, either, since the city has not been contacted about permits.
“They will contact us at some point,” he said.
In the meantime, it sits wrapped in fencing.
“I’m sorry the chain-link fence is there,” said Mayor Norman Richardson. “I don’t really like it, (but) for safety sakes, it has to be there.”
Richardson said issues with the motel have been a hardship for the city and could be something they eventually work on ”abating.” In conjunction with the Highway 12 motel, Richardson also mentioned the longtime boarded up former Sidwell Hotel on Second Street and a partially vacant apartment complex that has a structural issue across the street from Riverview Middle School.
“Like a lot of cities, I think we have a blight ordinance, but I don’t know how strong it is or how well it works or if we’ll have to work on strengthening it,” Richardson said.
Rio Vista sets its procedures for nuisance abatement in the Municipal Code Chapter 8.16 and states in part in 8.16.100: “The city may immediately abate any nuisance or violation of this chapter that poses a clear and imminent danger to, or requires immediate action to prevent or mitigate the loss or impairment of, life, health, property, or essential public services. The city may perform this abatement without providing prior notice or hearing to the owner or occupier of the offending premises.”
The nuisances are outlined in 8.16.030.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.