Fire Officials Confirm Arson Was Cause of San Pedro Elks Lodge F - New York News

Fire Officials Confirm Arson Was Cause of San Pedro Elks Lodge Fire

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San Pedro, CA -

From Olga Ospina:

One day after the blaze at the historic Elks Lodge in San Pedro, fire officials confirm it was an act of arson. Fire Chief Featherstone stating at a news conference this afternoon, the blaze was intentionally set. Fire Investigators are working with the LAPD, continuing to look into Tuesday morning's fire. Fortunately no one was killed or hurt, but the fire chief promised the arsonist will be brought to justice.

Also present at today's news conference was councilmember Joe Buscaino, an Elk member himself. He expressed outrage over the fire calling it a huge loss for the San Pedro community. To whoever is behind this: he said the coward will be hunted down and arrested. The San Pedro community will not put up with this. The councilman calling it a huge loss for the community, but promised they will rebuild the iconic institution and bring it into a new era.

Mr. Buscaino plans on asking city council to put up a reward to help find the person or persons responsible for the destruction of this landmark.

 


From Gigi Graciette:

 

With almost four million people living in Los Angeles, it's often hard to find that "community spirit; that sense of knowing not only your neighbor, but the banker and the butcher. You know, that small town feeling.

Many like it that way. Others, like me, wish they could have the best of two worlds - that small town feeling in the big city. And that's exactly what it felt like today at the San Pedro Elks Lodge. Sadly, the lodge burned down this morning in a massive fire that took 100 LA City firefighters two hours to put out. And in those two hours, decades of work, charity, history and memories went up in flames.

"I want to cry",  James Dimon, one of the lodge's trustees told me. "I've been volunteering here for more than 20 years and now it's gone." The fire raged thru the almost 34 thousand square foot center, an iconic building in San Pedro, which sits high on the hillside. On a clear day, you can see as far as your imagination will let you - yes, the view is that good - but today, the thick black smoke covers the sky for miles around.

It's as dark as the mood of all the people who keep arriving here. Some tell me they are members. Others, live in the area and wanted to see for themselves if it was true. Did the lodge burn down? It seems everyone has been to some kind of an event here. Weddings, banquets, brunches, even a funeral reception, or two.

Even some of the firefighters who helped put the fire out, I was told, were members. While others on the front lines had attended some event here. And that's where the small town feeling comes in. They're worried. They're crying. And they're mad. That's because on Sunday there was another fire here. A much smaller grass and rubbish fire right behind the lodge.

It was 6:33 in the morning, LA City Fire told me, and no one knows how it started. Two fires in two days are two fires too many, says Jose Chavez, the lodge's Exalted Ruler who thinks both fires were started on purpose. "We're talking arson", he tells me. But who would want to hurt the Elks? The benevolent Elks? Seriously? And who would burn down the building where the scouts meet? "Someone had it in for us. People are sick.", says Chavez who has shared his information  - and he says he does have specific information - with the fire department.

As arson investigators combed through the ashes for clues and firefighters made sure there were no more hotspots in what's left of the building built in 1967, suddenly there was an audible gasp. And then came the tears.

Firefighters had saved a room that held one of Lodge 966's most prized possessions, it's Holy Bible, originally printed in 1905. Everyone gather's round to take a look, murmuring questions of concern for  the bible's delicate pages. But it wasn't damaged. Much like the spirit of those who proudly belong to the Elks Lodge... and the many others who may not be members but have made many a memory here. "We will rebuild.", says Chavez. "The building may be gone, but our spirit is alive and well."

 

(FOX 11 / CNS) A greater-alarm fire that may have been set deliberately destroyed most of an Elks Lodge in San Pedro early today.

The fire, atop a hill overlooking San Pedro Harbor, was fought for almost two hours by 27 Los Angeles Fire Department companies before being knocked down around 4:45 a.m., LAFD Captain Steve Ruda said.

Ruda said the 35,000-square-foot two-story structure was destroyed, with the exception of its auditorium.

Recent brush-clearing on the hillside and the defensive efforts of firefighters prevented nearby houses from catching fire. Ruda said a smaller was reported to have been extinguished outside the building early Sunday morning. "It looks like it was intentional,'' Ruda said of the Sunday fire.

"That information about last Sunday's fire will come into play this morning.'' The lodge was built on an 11-acre hilltop site in 1967 at a cost of $648,000. Its fittings included chandeliers and stained glass windows from the original lodge, which was built in 1911.

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