An early morning fire that destroyed part of an Elks Lodge in San Pedro was set on purpose, authorities said Wednesday.
The blaze was reported at about 2:50 a.m. Tuesday, bringing more than 100 Los Angeles firefighters, some of them lodge members, to the scene.
Much of the nearly 40,000 square-foot building in the 1700 block of West Cumbre Drive (map) was ravaged, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Flames were extinguished in a little less than two hours.
At an afternoon news conference in front of the lodge on Wednesday, fire Chief Jim Featherstone and City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents the area, decried the arson.
Buscaino, one of about 2,500 members of the San Pedro Elks Lodge, called the blaze “tragic” and a huge loss for the Harbor Area community.
“I say to the coward to set this fire on purpose … our message to you is you will be hunted down and arrested,” Buscaino said. “We don’t put up with this type of behavior in our San Pedro community.”
Featherstone said investigators had determined the blaze was an “incendiary or arson fire” on Wednesday afternoon. The investigation was ongoing, he said.
Buscaino said he would consider calling for the City Council to offer a reward for information leading to the prosecution of the arsonist.
Jose Chavez, the exalted ruler of the lodge, said members have been touched by support received from the community and other surrounding lodges. Donations can be sent to the lodge, he said.
Anyone with information was asked to call the LAFD arson hotline at 213-893-9850.