At 10 o'clock Monday morning, December 16, 1887, fire broke out in
the renowned Belmont Hotel, a famous resort atop Bunker Hill at the
end of the Second Street cable car line.
Belmont consisted of a pair of two-and-one-half story wood-frame
buildings with sharply-peaked roofs. Only a few feet separated
them. For years the panoramic view of Los Angeles had often
provided amusement for the Belmont's guests and servants, who, when
pistol shots reverberated or alarm bells tolled, watched fire
apparatus and firefighters racing in opposite directions while
searching for the blaze.
almost alone atop Bunker Hill, the rapidly-spreading fire was
quickly seen throughout the city. Pistol shots were
fired. The police department received telephone calls.
An officer pulled Box 31 at Spring and Second Streets. Engine
and ladder company horses were unable to pull the heavy rigs up the
hill. Firefighters had to take a longer route around Bunker
Hill to reach the fire by way of Sixth and Pearl (Figueroa)
Streets. The Belmont's inaccessibility took firefighters at
least half an hour to get there.
water from the Second Street Park Reservoir, the steam engine
finally got water on the fire, but the Belmont was, by then, beyond
saving. Firefighters, servants and guests concentrated upon
saving as many personal belongings and furniture as they could before
heat and smoke drove them out of the buildings. Soon a
sprawling pile of steamer trunks, clothing, bedding and furniture
was strewn across the grassy slope looking down upon the city.
Less than two hours later the Belmont Hotel was gone forever and the
$50,000 loss was added to the city's records.
CENTENNIAL by Paul Ditzel, page 39.