By DOUGLAS W. MOTLEY
A late-night blaze of unknown origin incinerated a 1930s-era hotel in the 23800 block of Lake Drive in Crestline on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
The fire, first reported around 11 p.m., elicited an immediate response from San Bernardino County Fire Department, which responded with five engine companies, one paramedic ambulance and a battalion chief, while Cal Fire sent two engine companies and one battalion chief.
Upon arrival, firefighters discovered a disheveled, log cabin-style structure partially involved in flames and smoke spiraling hundreds of feet above the hotel complex. In a matter of a few minutes, the blaze had spread to a second building on the property, which is adjacent to California Bank and Trust and across the street from B&L Liquor. Two sheriff’s patrol units also responded to the blazing inferno.
A nearby neighbor, who resides on Springwater Drive on a hillside behind the burning building, said he was awakened by an explosion around 11:15 p.m. and went outside to see what was going on. He saw flames emanating from one of the buildings. He believes he may have been the first person to report the blaze when he dialed 911. The unidentified neighbor also said he had recently seen people coming and going from the multi-unit complex and that he believes homeless persons had been inhabiting at least one of the buildings. Erica Griffiths, who also lives nearby, said she heard explosions, as well.
Firefighters, who were seen battling the flames from both sides of the burning building complex, appeared to gain control of the blaze sometime after midnight, as the smoke and embers began to subside, as firefighters continued dousing the smoldering rubble well into the early morning hours.
Despite repeated phone calls to the County Fire’s media department over a three-day period and assurance from several media representatives that they would have the incident commander return this reporter’s requests for details regarding the cause of the blaze, whether any of the charred buildings had been occupied at the time of the blaze and if any firefighters or civilians had been injured, no such response had been received by press time on Tuesday.