Fire scorches lot where famed mansion burned 7 years ago in Pasadena

PASADENA — Firefighters Friday quickly extinguished a small brush fire on a vacant lot where a famed mansion was destroyed in an arson fire seven years ago.
The fire was reported just before 1 p.m. at 160 S. San Rafael Avenue, Pasadena Fire Department Spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Area fire officials were already on high alert Friday, as a Red Flag Warning for elevated fire danger was in effect due to hot temperatures, windy conditions and single-digit humidity levels.
“Fortunately, we were here within minutes, and weather conditions were on our side,” Derderian said. The situation could have been worse if the fire burned its way into the brush of the Arroyo Seco, just to the east of San Rafael Avenue.
“Due to very mild wind conditions, it did not spread to the Arroyo,” Derderian said.
It was believed that landscapers had been working in the area around the time the fire started, however the cause remained under investigation, she said.
The lot is the site where an 84-year-old, 12,000-square-foot, 21-room mansion designed by famed architect Paul R. Williams was destroyed in an arson fire on Oct. 5, 2005.
The mansion, which was owned by Michael Armand Hammer, grandson of the late philanthropist and oil man Armand Hammer.
The Hammer family bought the home in 2004 and spent millions of dollars renovating it. The family was about a month away from moving in when the fire destroyed the home.
The blaze was the largest-ever arson in the city, causing an estimated $20 million worth of damage to the home and its contents.
The home has been featured in numerous movies, including “Topper,”’ “Rocky V,” “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” “Three Men and a Little Lady,” “Stand By Me,” and others.

PHOTO courtesy of Jamie Nicholson/Pasadena Fire Department

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