Splash Kingdom Waterpark catches fire again
For the third time in two years Splash Kingdom waterpark caught fire, damaging a small outside shed. The latest fire was reported at about 2 p.m. on February 5, 2021, at the Redlands, California, waterpark. Crews arrived to find a small storage area adjacent to the main building’s back wall in flames, according to the Fire Department.
Twelve firefighters from the agency responded to the scene along with crews from Loma Linda and San Bernardino County. They managed to stop the fire from spreading to the main structure.
No injuries were reported.
Approximately $5,000 in damages were reported.
This is the third time the waterpark caught fire in recent years, and it happened shortly after city planning officials began proceedings to revoke its operating permit.
In October 2020, the Redlands Fire Department responded to a fire which took place at around 7 a.m. Crews were met with heavy flames and smoke when they arrived, 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 press 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 this fire, authorities were investigating it as “suspicious.”
In May 2020, Redlands fire crews responded to a fire that caused 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.
Of the May fire, Splash Kingdom Operator Dan Martinez put the blame squarely on vandals. He said that 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.
That was the third time the city had 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 shut down due to the Coronavirus. Since then it has sat neglected, vacant and scorched amid dead landscaping and graffiti.
What ignited the most recent blaze is under investigation, the Fire Department said.
Vandals and homeless people have been spotted at the park in recent months, and the owners’ conditional use permit was revoked again on January 12, 2021, after years of noncompliance on landscaping, parking and permitting issues.
The 17-acre water park opened in 1996 under the name “Pharaoh’s Lost Kingdom.” It has undergone changes in ownership and has been caught up with city code violations.
Firefighters responding to a blaze at Splash Kingdom on Feb. 5, 2021. Photo credit: The Redlands Fire Department