Hot Hotel

July 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A broken air conditioner is making life miserable for the 250 people living in the old Californian Hotel in Downtown Fresno.Now an independent living center with many elderly residents, the heat is hard to take. Two people were hospitalized because of the heat.

Residents said without air conditioning the old building is unbearable. Some sought refuge in an air conditioned city bus parked outside.

Resident Gary Lane describes it this way, "It's over a hundred in our rooms. It gets pretty toasty in there."

The problem is the giant air conditioning unit. It sits on the roof, right below the gazebo that used to shade a rooftop swimming pool when this was one of the city's finest hotels decades ago. One of the 80-ton compressors went out and the only replacement is on the East coast. It's being air freighted out Wednesday, and it's hoped it will be installed by Thursday. With the hot streak expected to continue some residents are worried.

Gladys Davis has lived here for two years. She said, "You know there's a lot of sick people in here. I don't know if they're gonna make it 'till Thursday."

The Fresno Fire Department and paramedics are working with the building's managers. They have set up a cooling area in the old ballroom, and are trying to make sure residents are reasonably comfortable.

Ken Shockley of the Fresno Fire Department said," We are inside with staff evaluating those folks who have been deemed to be at risk at going room to room checking on folks making sure they are all right."

Heat is not just a problem in the old hotel. Other city residents headed to one of several cooling centers set up throughout the city.

Dee Garcia brought her whole family to the chilly gym at the Ted Wills community center, when her air conditioner didn't do the job. She said, "Oh, it's hot. We couldn't hack it at home so we had to come over with my Grandkids. So we're here trying to cool off, because it's real hot out there. I'm glad they have a program like this for us. Because if they didn't we'd be in big trouble."

They're trying to avoid trouble at the Californian. Some residents have been sent out to stay with their families, but so far, most are staying here, and not being moved to a cooler place.


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