Left photo courtesy of LBFD, right photo courtesy of We Are The Next.
Long Beach’s last surviving turn-of-the-century Southern Pacific railroad station was destroyed by an early morning fire today, prompting city officials to mourn for the loss of a historic building that was going through a long and tedious restoration process.
“What a terrible loss of history,” Mayor Robert Garcia tweeted late Friday morning.
Saddened to hear about the fire last night that destroyed the historic train depot at Willow Springs Park - what a terrible loss of history— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) September 16, 2016
Long Beach firefighters responded to the structure fire at 2:37AM on the southwest corner of Willow Springs Park, located at California Avenue and 27th Street, according to Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) spokesman Jake Heflin.
It took 25 firefighters, including personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) stationed in Signal Hill, to put out the fire about 45 minutes later.
Heflin said that because of the amount of fire and the potential for collapse, firefighters went into defensive mode and hosed the building down from the outside. Since the building was “significantly destroyed,” there was not a lot of salvage to be done, Heflin said.
Early morning fire at Willow Springs Park. Historic Southern Pacific Railroad Depot built in 1907 destroyed in blaze pic.twitter.com/Sfwyin2747— Long Beach Fire (@lbfd) September 16, 2016
Fire personnel later discovered that the building destroyed by the blaze was the historic Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, which was built in 1907 near Broadway and Pacific Avenue.
Heflin said the Depot—standing at 66 feet long and 30 feet wide and built in the Mission Revival style—was the sole survivor of the three railroad stations that once served downtown Long Beach around the turn of the last century.
It was relocated to the Public Service Yard on San Francisco Avenue, West near Anaheim Street, in 1936 and served as the city’s Material and Chemical Testing Laboratory before being used for storage. Then, in 2015 the Depot was moved to Willow Springs Park to undergo a multi-year restoration process before being re-opened to the public to serve as a visitor center at the park.
Willow Springs Park is also near the site of former railroad tracks that were used by the Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad.
“This is a tragic loss for our City,” Heflin stated.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.