By George Miller
Before 6 am on Monday, a fire burned on the north end of the long-abandoned Casa Sirena hotel on Peninsula Road at Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, but was quickly brought under control, then extinguished.
The response was overwhelming, as units from multiple fire stations in Oxnard and even from the county dept showed up quickly and more were still rolling in a half hour later. A fireboat stood by at the dock by a park next door. Public and private paramedic units stood by, but there were no known casualties. Fire Station 6 was just down the street on Channel Islands Boulevard, ensuring a very rapid initial response.
Peninsula Boulevard and the hotel parking lot were full of emergency vehicles and personnel. We saw a column of black smoke on the way there, but by the time we had arrived, it reduced considerably and turned white.
The building was abandoned, presumably with no active utilities. It is likely that the blaze was human-caused, but personnel on the scene we talked to were not yet sure of that at the time.
We could see firefighters on the roof, chopping it out for access, with more directing a stream of water from a hose. There were what looked like lights from personnel visible inside from at least one window opening. Others stood ready to deal with any requirement that arose.
In its glory days, Casa Sirena was a preferred destination, for tourists, weddings, and other special events. The adjacent Lobster Trap restaurant (also abandoned) was beloved by locals and out of towners alike, for nice dinners, lunches, to celebrate special events, meetings, or just for a nice meal. Both structures gradually decayed over the years. The Lobster Trap dinners weren’t so nice in its later days, either. Both structures have boat slips all along their shorelines. The docks are poorly maintained and some have been removed. Many spaces are now vacant.
Not even a shadow of its former glory, the sprawling structure is long abandoned, a casualty of multiple recessions, bureaucracy, a hesitation to renovate. It is sometimes a hangout for the homeless and drug users. Security is very weak.
It is our understanding that the Harbor Dept has contracted with a developer to rebuild. We do not know when this would be done.
George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.