Fire Burns One of a Kind Rancho Mirage Restaurant
RANCHO MIRAGE - Fire investigators are searching for clues to what started a fire at Gigi's Island in Rancho Mirage.
Three firefighters suffered minor injuries, about fifteen people are out a job, and an historic building was ravaged.
It could take investigators days or weeks to determine the cause of the fire.
Riverside County Fire Department estimates the early morning fire caused five million dollars worth of damage.
But its not just about the money, this building was a one-of-a kind, historic structure in Rancho Mirage.
The raging fire tore through the restaurant, leaving in its wake charred beams, and a blackened mountainside.
"It's a shame, its such a pretty building you know, you never see anything like that built into the mountain like that," said Drew Decker of Cathedral City.
It is a one of a kind building. It was designed by Kendrick Kellogg in 1977-- he studied under and was inspired by famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
"It's the only historically designated property, commercial property, in the city of Rancho Mirage and it's a huge loss. Organic architecture, glulam beams, there's not another example in the western United States like this building," said Rancho Mirage Community Development Director, Randy Binder.
Drew Decker used to dine there when it was still the original restaurant, the Chart House.
"It's been here for so long, and it's just apparently no one can make it, before it was Bananaz, and now its turned over into this Gigi's Lounge, just no one went," said Decker.
The historic building has had many names.
"It was the Chart House for many years, I believe after that it was Hawaiian Joes, then Ocean's 111, then most recently Bananaz," said Binder.
People gazed in disbelief at the charred shell.
"I've been in the desert for about 21 years and we used to come here for celebrations, and anyway I'm very sad about this, it's really... it's just really mind-boggling," said Flodel Stortz of Palm Desert.
We asked the Binder if anything is salvageable. He told us, "It doesn't look like it, our building official, visited the site and he said it looks like it's a total, total loss."
The valley lost a landmark.
"Yeah, I wonder if they are going to rebuild it?" wondered Decker.
We did speak on the phone with the designer, Kendrick Kendell. He told us he has rebuilt structures damaged by fire before, and says he could do it again.