Update: Descanso Gardens loses nine vehicles in fire that destroyed shed, damaged power lines

[UPDATE 1:03 p.m.: Descanso Gardens officials estimate that the early morning blaze that ripped through a maintenance shed storing chemicals and gardening equipment may have cost at least half a million dollars in damage.]

The gardens remain closed Friday while crews work to investigate the cause and clean the area near the maintenance shed, which is off the main grounds, said Descanso Executive Director David Brown.
"We’ve probably lost $10,000 or $20,000 worth of tools," Brown said. "There was no damage to the garden or any of the trees. It was just the building and its contents."

It took about 30 Los Angeles County and Glendale firefighters roughly two hours to knock down flames inside the shed, which spread to several surrounding vehicles, said Inspector Scott Miller of Los Angeles County Fire. No one was injured.


“The building is a complete loss, along with the vehicles,” Brown said. "A stake bed truck, van, pick up truck and four or five small electric vehicles that gardeners use to get around the garden were destroyed, along with two visitor shuttle tour trams."

“We had more presence and more support than we could have imagined. It was really astounding and the gardens weren’t affected. It could have been much, much worse.

The gardens will set up interim quarters for maintenance staff and continue with its spring planting, he said.

“This appears to have been an electrical fire of some kind,” Brown said, although the investigation is ongoing.  

Arson inspectors, one from Los Angeles County Fire and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, do not believe at this time that this is arson, he added.


A sheriff's deputy on patrol apparently reported smoke in the La Cañada Flintridge area at about 4:20 a.m., Miller said.

Firefighters arrived at 1418 Descanso Drive and found downed power lines and a roughly 1200 or 1400 square foot shed containing chemicals, ranging from pesticides to paint thinner, and several vehicles on fire, Miller said.

"What made this scene a little more difficult was the fact that we had wires down on two sides of the structure," he said. "We identified the downed power lines and from there we started attacking the fire."


It's still unclear what caused the fire, said Lt. Elizabeth Sachs of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station.

"I know that the fire and arson investigators came out so we will find out whatever started it," she said.

Editor's Note: This article was updated to include more information.

-- Nicole Charky,

Follow on Twitter: @Nicosharki.