- Reporters Desk
Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a blaze that almost burned the San Pedro Elks Lodge #966, a 1748 W. Cumbre Drive.
Investigators estimate that the fire started sometime before 3 a.m. April 15. It took 104 firefighters, from 27 Los Angeles Fire Department companies, to put out the fire at about 5 a.m., after about two hours.
The Los Angeles Fire Department was summoned at about 2:50 a.m. Firefighters found the 33,744-square-foot, two-story building completely engulfed in flames. The roof, as well as other parts of the building, collapsed at about 3:30 a.m. The main auditorium, an area where the group gathered and did rituals was spared. No injuries were reported.
Nearby homes also were spared thanks, in large part, to brush-clearing on the hillside and the defensive efforts of firefighters.
Elks Lodge members were at the building on the night of April 14 for a meeting, which ended at 7:30 p.m., but authorities said no one was in the building when the fire began.
Firefighters spent several hours at the scene gingerly extracting memorabilia and carefully salvaging belongings that had not been consumed by flames. A Bible that has been part of ceremonies for more than 100 years was saved. The Bible was signed by every exalted ruler since 1905. Other historic artifacts also were recovered.
By 9 a.m. the LAFD was still putting out hot spots and smoldering wooden beams, before arson investigators and their dogs were allowed onto the property.
Monetary loss to the building is still being tabulated.
The Elks Lodge, known for its original chandeliers and stained glass, was built in 1967 at a cost of $648,000 in an 11-acre hilltop; it sits on a bluff off Western Avenue. The original lodge was built in 1911. It had more than 2,300 members.
The Elk’s members were shocked and the surrounding neighbors in this upper middle-class neighborhood of well manicured homes were shaken by the early morning blaze.
This is the second fire on the property in a week. Firefighters were at the property at about 6:30 a.m. April 13 to put out a small vegetation fire, which some lodge members believe to have been set on purpose.
A connection between both fires has not been established, but investigators have not ruled anything out, officials said.