Fire at CA Splash Kingdom Waterpark
A vacant waterpark in Redlands, California, caught fire three days after the city’s Planning Commission agreed to begin proceedings to revoke the park’s permit to operate.
Redlands Fire Department responded to a fire which took place at around 7 a.m. on October 16, 2020, at Splash Kingdom. Crews were met with heavy flames and smoke when they responded to the structure fire, which took about 30 minutes to extinguish. The fire caused “extensive damage to all of the water slides” on the vacant property, a Fire Department release stated. In addition to 16 Redlands personnel, six Loma Linda firefighters also responded to the blaze.
No injuries were reported.
Officials said that while it is not known what caused the fire, authorities are investigating it as “suspicious.”
The fire was the second to occur at Splash Kingdom in less than six months. Redlands fire crews responded to a fire that broke out in the morning on May 2, causing about $750,000 in damage. The circumstances of that fire were also deemed “suspicious.”
“We cannot specifically say what the cause was. I can’t tell you it was homeless caused - I can tell you it’s suspicious in nature,” said Fire Chief Jim Topoleski, of the fire that took place in May, which decimated the bottom floor of the main building and created significant heat damage above.
He also noted that the sprinkler system had been shut off in that case.
Splash Kingdom Operator Dan Martinez put the blame squarely on vandals concerning the cause of the May fire. He said the coronavirus pandemic had kept the waterpark shut down and had led to extensive vandalism as well as the fire.
After the May fire, City planners called the park an eyesore, and on October 13, 2020, unanimously voted to revoke Splash Kingdom’s permit to operate.
This is the third time the city has reviewed the park’s operating permit.
In 2009, the planning commission revoked its operating permit due to non-compliance and code violations after operating as a center for night-time music and dance events.
In 2018, the commission again revoked the conditional use permit for multiple code violations and monitored the operator’s progress in addressing brown landscaping and unapproved parking lot striping, among other issues.
In 2019, the City Council overturned the revocation after operators outlined how they would address these issues but by the following year, city planners said that little or no progress had been made.
In March 2020, the park was ordered to shutdownduetothecoronavirus.Together with the fire in May, the park has since then sat neglected, vacant and scorched amid dead landscaping and graffiti.
At the October 13, 2020, planning commission meeting, Martinez told the committee that Splash Kingdom had been hit hard by Covid and argued to be allowed to rehabilitate the park.
“There are plans this week to prioritize cleanup, safety and security, Martinez said.
Martinez was not able to convince the commission.
“We are in a worse place now than a few years ago,” said Commissioner Julie Rock. “We have gotten nowhere. The site gets worse and worse all the time.”
Three days later, on the morning of October 16, the site got worse yet again, as every slide in the park suffered extensive damage from another fire.
Splash Kingdom Waterpark in Redlands, California. Authorities said the blaze was seen burning a slide area of the park. (Photo courtesy of the Redlands Fire Department October 16, 2020.