Firefighters were forced to go to each door to make sure everyone had left the building as they put out the fire, but they said they didn’t find anyone inside.
Randy Agee, who lives in the front building of the motel, saw the smoke in the back building told a nearby woman to call 911.
Agee said he immediately started knocking on the doors to alert his neighbors.
He estimated getting 4 to 5 people out of their rooms, including one woman who was sleeping.
Richmond Fire Department Chief Buzzy Campbell said, "If this problem had happened at 3:00 in the morning instead of 3:00 in the afternoon, when people weren’t awake and aware of what was going on around them, there could have been some very significant losses of life."
Chief Campbell said motels are required to have working fire alarms and he will make sure the motel fixes its alarm.