Flames destroy Masonic center in Crescent City
A massive fire tore through the Masonic Family Center in Crescent City on Friday night, drawing dozens of firefighters from seven departments and leaving almost nothing but a brick skeleton.
Firefighters pour water on the Masonic Family Center: “We couldn’t stay in there any longer. It was burning over our heads.” Photos by Del Norte Triplicate/Adam Spencer & Rick Postal F
Crescent City Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Clinton Schaad said his crew was first on the scene, arriving at the corner of 9th Street and C Street shortly before 7 p.m.
“We had heavy smoke showing so we made entry quick,” said Schaad. “It was burning in the attic, which makes it difficult to get to.”
The firefighters sprayed the flames in the attic, only to have the fire start to roll over on them. Flames were burning through the roof.
“At that point it had already spread to the whole attic and one crew can’t contain that,” Schaad said. “We couldn’t stay in there any longer. It was burning over our heads; it was coming down on us.”
One firefighter sustained a minor burn, but “he’s alright,” Schaad said.
There was no one inside the building and no other injuries had been reported as of 9 p.m. Friday.
As more firefighters arrived to deploy blasts of water and hundreds of onlookers gathered to watch the destruction, there were many times when it appeared the fire was under control. For several minutes, only smoke could be seen, but that outside appearance didn’t tell the story inside.
Flames resurged every time, and it quickly became obvious that the roof would collapse. The center section was first to slowly cave in, followed by the eastern third of the building. Flames on the western third of the structure became strongest just as a Harbor Rural Fire Protection District crew showed up to pitch in.
Even after more than a hour of dousing the building with water, the fire remained strong.
“We’ll do what we can now to keep it contained and minimize injuries,” Schaad said.
Streets were lined with curious spectators taking pictures with jaws dropped at the devastation.
“That’s a hundred years of history going up in smoke right there,” said Claude Rose, manager of the apartment complex across the street from the Masonic center. Friday’s mayhem reminded him of a fire in his building three years ago that took the life of a woman and badly burned a little boy. He was happy that he didn’t have to see a similar tragedy Friday.
The seven departments that responded were Crescent City Volunteer Fire Department, Crescent Fire Protection District, Fort Dick Fire Protection District, Cal-Fire, Brookings Fire Department, Harbor Rural Fire Protection District. and Pelican Bay State Prison Fire Department.