Fire ripped through the abandoned Casey’s Restaurant and Lounge in Palm Desert at noon on Sunday.
John Zocolillo and Danny Cilo visiting from New York were among the first on scene and shot video of the building on fire.
“We walked over to try and help see if anybody was inside and it was just engulfed in flames,” says Zocolillo.
Joey Spasari was there too and called 911, he couldn’t believe how quickly smoke turned into a raging inferno, “The building is obviously a total loss but within two minutes it was completely engulfed, completely engulfed.”
Cal Fire Riverside County Fire Department Battalion Chief Gad Amith says the fire was so intense they took an aggressive approach, calling a second alarm, “The amount of volume of fire and the amount of heat that the fire was generating was threatening an occupancy just behind me on the south side and so to mitigate the exposure and the threat to other occupancy we deployed both ladder trucks and what we called a water tower operation that’s designed to take the heat out of the fire and knock the fire down efficiently minimizing any potential injury to firefighters.”
Jackson Thompson, the owner of construction company J. H. Thompson and Sons says he breathed a sigh of relief because his company just completed a massive operation to remove toxic asbestos from the building.
Thompson says the building was going to be demolished in order to make way for a new Denny’s restaurant on the property , “That’s the first thing that went through my mind that they had removed all that dry wall that was doubled wall and that’s the first thing I told the fire chief that they had cleared all the asbestos out of the building.”
Firefighters had a tough battle on their hands but were able to put out the fire and all go home safely.
“You gotta give it up to the firefighters, you know they responded quickly and they did a very good job putting the fire out,” says Zocolillo.
“Anytime we go on a fire of this magnitude and I stand here to talk to you two hours later without injuries to our guys is a good day to our organization and a good day for our community,” says Amith.
Amith says there were no reports of people inside and the cause of the fire is under investigation.