DON PEDRO -- A large fire devastated the Don Pedro headquarters in Tuolumne County just days before Memorial Day weekend, a time when about 10,000 visitors are expected to drop by.
The Turlock Irrigation District said it will not affect visitors’ trips to Don Pedro. They set up a mobile visiting center in place of their headquarters. Cal Fire was called in around 9 p.m. on Wednesday to fight the flames and were not able to control it until 2 a.m. on Thursday, which they said is unusual.
“People who work here and live here, it’s like losing your home. I mean it’s a very, very personal loss,” said Calvin Curtin, spokesperson with the Turlock Irrigation District.
The building, which is partially owned by TID, has been around for 50 years. It was a place where visitors could learn more about the dam before they set sail on the Don Pedro water.
It took Cal Fire crews five hours to control the flames. Battalion Chief Mike Spear told FOX40, a fire at this height, this early in the season is odd.
“For that time of night, this early in the fire season, it’s unusual,” Spear explained.
The flames consumed more than six acres, crews were on site for the majority of Thursday, scaling the steep hills for hot spots.
“Not only was it the remoteness of this for our resources to get into the incident but also where you notice the vegetation fire burned it was very steep. It was down to the drainage,” he told FOX40.
Despite the damage, TID wants to assure visitors that Don Pedro Dam is still open for Memorial Day weekend.
“We’re real excited that although we did lose our recreation area building, we’re still able to offer the full services of the lake,” Curtin said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.