A raging fire ripped through the vacant old Escondido Country Club Wednesday morning, sending plumes of thick smoke into the air, visible from miles away.
The flames engulfed the building at West Country Club Lane and Golden Circle Drive at around 5:20 a.m. Quickly, the blaze escalated to a two-alarm fire and more crews were called to battle it.
The fire caused part of the roof to collapse on the south side of the building and, due to safety issues, fire crews were not able to enter the building to tackle the flames from inside.
Using three trucks and ladders, firefighters doused the roof.
It kept burning.
At one point, firefighters feared they were running out of water. The water department was asked to increase water pressure so crews could continue working.
Escondido Fire Department (EPD) Chief Rick Vogt told NBC 7 the fire was mainly burning in the attic of the main hall and dining area, on the north side of the building.
The building was abandoned and no one was inside.
Two hours later, flames could still be seen shooting from the roof. Surrounding streets were temporarily closed.
By 1 p.m., firefighters were still dousing the structure with water, in an effort to collapse unstable walls. More work will need to be done to make the structure safe for entry.
It may not be until early next week when investigators will be able to enter the building to determine the cause of the blaze, a EFD spokesperson told NBC 7.
EFD has handed the investigation over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
"They have access to labs," said Jeff Murdock, EFD Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Manager. "Escondido Fire doesn’t have labs so we needed their assistance."
ATF agents took samples from the building, which will be tested at their labs.
The agency told NBC 7 it's far too early in the investigation to determine if the fire was arson or set accidentally.
The Escondido Country Club has sat empty since 2013. A plan to redevelop the property was met with resistance from some neighbors.
On Nov. 17, after about three hours of testimony from neighbors at a city council meeting, approval was given by the Escondido City Council to tear the building down and redevelop the area to put up 380 new homes.
The community is planning another meeting next week to decide whether to pursue further legal action to block redevelopment.