An historic lodge caught fire in Palm Springs Monday afternoon, shutting down a portion of Ramon Road.
The Clara Bee Lodge fire started at around 5:10 p.m. in the 300 block of Ramon Road near Calle Encilia.
Ramon at Calle El Segundo and East Indian Canyon roads were shut down while crews worked on the building.
The building has been around since the 1940’s, according to neighbors. But it’s been vacant for years, leaving some to wonder if it would eventually be torn down.
That question may have been answered on Monday.
“It’s one step closer,” said Scott Ventura, deputy fire chief, Palm Springs Fire Department. “Lets say that.”
Residents believe a squatter possibly started the fire.
“We see shopping carts and homeless people around the corner and things like that,” said Andrew Cardenas, who witnessed the fire.
The deputy fire marshall for the Palm Springs Fire Department interviewed a person of interest shortly after arriving at the scene.
The department isn’t ruling out arson.
Officially, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
“The city has worked with the land owner to get it boarded up,” said Ventura. “We’re still trying to get the building demolished.”
Cal Fire assisted on the call providing four engines and additional personel.
Palm Springs Fire responded with 14 fire fighters and four engines.
“I came and looked outside, and that’s when I could see smoke coming out of the top of the building,” said Cardenas.
The Incident Commander called for additional resources upon arriving at the scene, “Because of the heat we had today and more importantly, the humidity,” said Ventura. “It really drains resources and fire fighters in this gear.”
Crews got a quick hold of the fire. It was under control at around 6 p.m.
“My first thought was how big is it going to get,” said Cardenas.
Fortunately not big enough to cause any damage outside of the Clara Bee Lodge.
No injuries were reported.
“The only thing I could think of is that somebody left something burning that was in there,” said Cardenas.
The building was once used during Worl War II to house Italian prisoners of war, according to residents.
It’s still unclear whether or not the building will be torn down.