CARMEL VALLEY, Calif. --
Early Sunday, Carmel Valley lost one of its iconic structures, the Robles Del Rio Lodge -- a vacation destination that has sat idle for more than a decade.
It took crews about three hours to get the fire under control, and investigators are calling the fire suspicious.
Carmel Valley resident Cindy Thatcher said the building can be replaced, but not the artifacts inside.
Thatcher said in the 1920s and 30s the lodge was the central watering hole and dining spot in the area, but it fell into disrepair in recent years, and efforts to rebuild it were stifled.
"People would stay there, and they would swim and enjoy the summers," Thatcher said. "It was a retreat."
A resort website said developers planned to spend $20 million to renovate and reopen the lodge. But information on the site hasn't been updated for years.
During the fire, Carmel Valley resident Jeff Honda said he went to door-to-door to alert neighbors, many of whom are elderly. A complete evacuation of the area was conducted because high winds tossed embers around, causing fits for firefighters.
Miles Schuler, with the Carmel Valley Fire Department, said access to the area was very difficult, and a fire of its magnitude took a lot of water to put out.
It's unclear how many historic paintings and other memorabilia were in the lodge at the time of the fire, but Action News discovered through documents obtained from the Monterey County Recorder's Office that it appears the property was up for auction.
A notice of trustee sale went up in April and is one of the contributing factors in why both firefighters and neighbors said they are calling the fire suspicious.
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