The Immediate Aftermath

Ironically, the San Diego Aerospace Museum and the International Hall of Fame had been preparing to move across the park later that year into the Ford Building – in fact, invitations for construction bids for renovation were scheduled to be out before February 28th. Their current home, the two-story, Spanish-Baroque Style Electric building, was built in 1915 as an exhibit hall for the Panama Pacific International Exposition and meant to be a temporary structure just for the duration of the exposition. However, it had undergone many renovations through the years, and because of its original construction, fire insurance had been denied. Museum director Col. Owen Clarke and Hall of Fame director Col. Ed Carey, along with Museum board president, retired Navy Captain Mark Starr, and many others were behind the big move, and the fire was not going to stop their plans. “We’re going to go ahead as planned, and we’ll have our grand opening in December.”

The day after the fire, San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson stood in front of the black rubble and ash of the Electric Building and addressed an audience of business and industry leaders, calling for pledges of support for the task ahead. He launched a plan resulting in the formation of a Recovery Fund, known as Aer-Fund, and kicked off the efforts by hosting a luncheon and donation drive.

The smoldering rubble of the Electric Building.

Board President Dick Knoth examines the ruins with San Diego Battalion Chief John Arbaugh.

Volunteers search through the rubble for anything salvageable.

The Mitsubishi Zero the day after the fire.

The Ryan M-1, Spirit of No. Dakota, being carried away.

An exhausting ordeal for volunteers – both physically and emotionally.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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