SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) — A 1950s roller rink in the process of being restored burned to the ground Thursday in San Bernardino.
Flames were first spotted coming from the former Stardust Roller Rink, later known as the Skateland Events Center, 2167 Lugo Ave., at about 6:30 a.m.
From Sky 2, the entire skating rink appeared to be ablaze, with heavy smoke reaching high into the sky. Fire officials said because of the intensity of the flames, they were forced to attack the fire primarily from the outside.
San Bernardino: (Update) Due to heavy involvement crews have transitioned exterior. Move-up rigs available in @sbcitygov for coverage. 9 Engine, 3 Trucks, 4 Chiefs & Fire Inv OS. Photos courtesy @564FIREPhoto pic.twitter.com/6a9oFo7gTK
— SB County Fire (@SBCOUNTYFIRE) December 5, 2019
The fire was declared out within an hour, but the building was destroyed. The rink had been closed for years, but was fully furnished, and chemicals preserving the wood rink apparently fueled the flames.
There were initially fears that homeless people were trapped inside, but authorities say they cleared the building and no one was found inside. One firefighter was hospitalized with a minor injury.
Owner Kal Ahmed said he’d been working to restore the rink, but had recently had trouble with it and two other businesses — banquet halls — he operates in San Bernardino. He says he has reported attempted arsons at the two banquet halls recently, and two days ago, as many as 20 people had entered the roller rink and tore it apart.
“I have actually expressed my concern about them coming back and setting up a fire at the property,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed said he believes his businesses have been targeted because he is a witness in a court case.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.