Mountain View Voice

News - May 3, 2013

Fire at Tropicana Lodge under investigation

by Mountain View Voice staff

Fire officials are investigating the cause of a two-alarm fire that swept through a vacant hotel on El Camino Real.

The fire at the Tropicana Hotel at 1720 El Camino Real was reported at 6:24 p.m. Sunday, April 28, and closed down the westbound lanes of El Camino Real for several hours.

Mountain View firefighters reported that there were no injuries.

Two 15-year-old Mountain View boys were arrested for trespassing at the Tropicana earlier in the day. Sgt. Dan Vicencio of the Mountain View Police Department said officers found them sitting on a couch in one of the rooms of the hotel — which has been vacant for some time and is scheduled for demolition. There were beer cans around the room, but the boys told police the beer was not theirs and that they were just "hanging out," Vicencio said.

The boys were released into the custody of their parents. Both police and fire officials said they were investigating whether the two teens may have some connection to the fire. However, currently there is no evidence linking them to the blaze.

Vicencio said the two teens were not the first to break into the abandoned hotel, noting that transients and others have been known to climb the fence and loiter inside the abandoned building.

Nearby resident Kristina Pereyra said she and her neighbors saw flames 6 feet high coming from the Tropicana's roof Sunday night and wondered if they should evacuate. She said they worried the fire would spread to a large eucalyptus tree near the hotel, and from there to a canopy of Monterey pines near the rear fence line.

"Just then the fire hoses started hitting the tree branches, giving everything a good soaking. We left the yard feeling reassured and appreciating our city's firefighters," Pereyra said.

Prometheus Real Estate Group closed a deal to purchase the hotel site and a neighboring property in January of last year. "We are planning a new, state-of-the-art, luxury apartment community for this property," Jon Moss, executive vice president for Prometheus, said last year.

The fire started on the first floor of the vacant hotel, which is slated for demolition.

Firefighters used the hotel for training exercises about eight months ago, so ventilation was already in place that helped limit the fire's spread, according to Mountain View Fire Department spokeswoman Jaime Garrett.

Garrett noted that the building had no utilities and no one was supposed to be inside the building. Around 12 units in the two-story building were affected by the fire, Garrett said.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report

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