ESCONDIDO — The cause of the November 2017 fire at the Escondido Country Club has officially been classified as undetermined, according to a press release from the Escondido Police Department.
The two-alarm blaze broke out at 5:20 a.m. at the club and took more than 12 hours to contain and extinguish, Escondido Fire spokesman Jeff Murdock said in a previous interview. Due to a lack of resources, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms analyzed evidence from the site, but results could take weeks, Murdock added.
In addition, the Metro Arson Strike Team and San Diego Bomb Arson units also investigated the fire. The estimated damage totals $850,000, according to Escondido Police Lt. Ed Varso.
“The undetermined cause comes from an evaluation of the known evidence,” he added. “We believe that the fire was human caused, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was set with the intent to burn down the structure. That part is still under investigation. Exact details on our evidence cannot be shared just yet, as the case is still open.”
Several residents are questioning the timing of the fire.
The intensity of the blaze prevented firefighters from entering the building when they arrived on scene. Walls and the ceiling collapsed, so units from Escondido, Vista, San Marcos, Carlsbad and Rancho Santa Fe had to fight the fire from the outside and couldn’t dose it with water until an opening in the roof was discovered.
No injuries or other damage to nearby buildings was reported.
The 12,000-square-foot clubhouse was abandoned four years after a bitter dispute between residents of the Escondido Country Club and property owner Michael Schlesinger, who wanted to develop the land with hundreds of homes.
The site was also the subject of a controversial development project recently passed by the City Council on Nov. 15, 2017, and is slated for 380 homes by developer New Urban West.
In addition to 380 homes, the project calls for 48.7 acres of open space including a massive green belt, a new clubhouse and four miles of trails. Each home will also be 100 percent powered by solar energy.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.