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Southland Wildfires / Fire Notebook

Hidden Springs Cafe is razed

September 02, 2009|Victoria Kim

Hidden Springs Cafe, a haven for bikers, a coffee stop for commuters and a home to owner Jim Lewis and his family, has been consumed by the wildfire raging through the Angeles National Forest, authorities confirmed Tuesday.

"It was completely razed," said Tom Zeulner, information officer for the Station fire. "The fire's burning so intensely that everything is consumed."

On Tuesday, Zeulner said, an inspection team went to the punch bowl-shaped canyon where the beloved cafe once stood and discovered that all area buildings had burned to the ground.

With no more fuel to consume, the fire had moved on, sparing only a couple of trailers, Zeulner said.

Lewis, who ran the cafe for 32 years, said a number of his customers and friends called him to say they saw the cafe site on a television news broadcast Tuesday morning.

People recognized the lone, old-fashioned phone booth standing amid ashes because it is the only phone booth in the Angeles National Forest, he said.

Lewis said he was riddled with guilt for not having been able to save any of his mother's belongings.

On Sunday afternoon, Lewis and his brother Otis had tried to save the cafe with hoses and pumps until they saw a wall of flames coming over the ridges and were forced to flee.

"I was too arrogant to think that I could win," he said. "I should've known better. I should have known I can't win against something like that."

-- Victoria Kim

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