A fire destroyed the 10,000-square-foot former Paul's Resort in El Verano near the city of Sonoma this morning, a Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority division chief said.
A passerby was the first of several people to report the blaze at 175 Verano Ave. around 2:35 a.m., Division Chief Bob Norrbom said.
The fire appears to have started in the front of the resort, which has been vacant since 1975, Norrbom said.
Firefighters arrived around 2:39 a.m. and the roof of the wood building collapsed about 15 minutes later, the division chief said.
It was too dangerous to go inside the shuttered building, so firefighters attacked the blaze from the outside, Norrbom said.
The fire was controlled in two hours, he said. Fire investigators were still at the scene around 10 a.m.
Nearby residential rental units were not damaged by the blaze, but a Little League field sustained water damage, Norrbom said.
Opening Day is Saturday, and the scheduled games might have to be played on another field, he said.
The owners of the building, the Marcucci family, were doing some renovation in the rear of the building last week, but it is not believed that caused the fire, Norrbom said.
He said the owners said they had chased transients away from the building from time to time.
It is not yet clear whether the fire started inside or outside of the building. Gas and electric services were connected at the time of the fire, Norrbom said.
There is no estimate yet on the dollar amount of damage the blaze caused.
Firefighters from Sonoma Valley, Glen Ellen and Schell Vista also responded.
The resort, which included a restaurant, bar and nightclub, was a popular music venue where singer Patsy Cline once performed, Norrbom said.
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