SAN PEDRO (CBSLA.com) — It took firefighters nearly two hours to knock down a “suspicious” fire at the historic Elks Lodge in San Pedro Tuesday morning.
The blaze was reported just before 3 a.m. in the 1700 block of West Cumbre Drive, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
More than 100 firefighters responded to the scene and found the two-story, 33,744-square-foot structure fully engulfed.
The lodge, which was built in 1967 and home to parties, weddings and family events, was described as “heavily damaged.” Firefighters, however, were able to save the building’s auditorium, which contained some historic possessions.
The fire has been deemed suspicious due to its speed and intensity, according to authorities, who said there was also a small vegetation fire at the property on Sunday morning and another recent act of vandalism.
The causes of both fires were under investigation by an arson team, which will return to the site Wednesday with accelerate-sniffing dogs.
Lodge members were at the building Monday night for a meeting, which ended at 7:30 p.m., but authorities said no one was in the structure when the fire began.
No injuries were reported.
Elks’ leaders said they plan to rebuild, but will look into leasing other spaces in the meantime.
Longtime members of the lodge were devastated over the incident.
“I’m terrible. I’m very, very mad. Not happy at all,” Matty Domancich, a past Elks President, said. “It’s a great loss that we’ve had that’s going to hurt the community.”
“We’re just devastated. The one thing they didn’t do, they didn’t take our view,” Mike Bennison said.
The Basura family joined the lodge three years ago and was planning on spending Mother’s Day there.
“It’s like someone died, someone important in our life is gone now. It’s a building, but it’s a place where everyone goes,” Katie Basura said.
She added, “I worry about the older gentlemen of the club, who have been members for 30-40 years. This is their home. This is where they gather every day.”