San Pedro Elks Lodge fire ruled arson, fire officials say

SAN PEDRO, Calif.

On Wednesday afternoon, Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino and interim Fire Chief Jim Featherstone held a news conference to announce developing information. After sifting through the rubble, investigators say they found evidence pointing to arson.

"We damn well know that this fire was set on purpose, and again, we won't put up with the cowardly act of those people or persons that were responsible for burning our beloved Elks Lodge here in San Pedro", said Buscaino.

Over 100 firefighters responded to the blaze which began around 3 a.m. at the lodge in the 1700 block of West Cumbre Drive. Both floors were engulfed in flames and the roof of the 33,744 square-foot building collapsed, officials said.

Firefighters contained the blaze about two hours later and were able to save most of the auditorium and some valuable artifacts, including a bible, antlers and jewels, before the fire reached them.

This is the second fire on the property since Sunday. Reports have also been made of a person who intentionally rammed a car into the building's air conditioning units.

Local leaders and investigators are vowing to track down the suspect. They are also planning to rebuild the facility and provide services to the 50 employees who are now out of work.

No further information was released. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information was urged to contact the Los Angeles Fire Department arson hotline at (213) 893-9850.

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