The fire was reported at about 5:50 a.m. at the White House Inn at 3030 Monterey Highway.
The inn consists of a series of one-story buildings, each with seven units. Firefighters arrived at the inn at about 5:55 a.m. and found one of the rear units ablaze, Culbertson said.
"It was completely engulfed in flames," he said.
Firefighters were able to control the fire at around 7:10 a.m. Flames destroyed the room where the fire started, partially burned a neighboring room and caused some damage to the other rooms due to smoke entering the building's common attic space.
Two hotel guests suffered smoke inhalation. One was treated at the inn and the other was taken to a hospital. No firefighters were injured. Culbertson said the investigation into the cause has been slowed because the room where the fire started was so badly damaged. Firefighters were able to determine, however, that a few of the rooms did not contain working smoke detectors.
"A lot of the units didn't have batteries in the smoke detectors," Culbertson said.
The fire department recommends changing smoke detector batteries at least twice annually.