LONG BEACH, Calif. (CNS) — A brightly colored Pride lifeguard tower will be dedicated in Long Beach Thursday, replacing one that was destroyed in a fire that the city's mayor deemed an "act of hate."
"I'm very proud to see our lifeguard tower back as a symbol of inclusion and love," Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. "I'm also excited for the community process to expand features and amenities around the tower to make an even more active space."
The tower, installed by the Long Beach Fire Department, will be unveiled at 5 p.m. on the beach near Shoreline Way and 12th Place. The event will include a ceremonial opening of the tower flaps by Garcia and City Councilwoman Cindy Allen, and the hanging of a red Rescue Can, the traditional signal that a lifeguard tower is in operation.
"The Pride Tower represents our unwavering commitment to our LGBTQ employees and to the diverse communities of Long Beach," said LBFD Marine Safety Chief Gonzalo Medina.
The previous Pride tower was destroyed in a fire that occurred in the early morning hours of March 23. The tower had been installed as part of last year's Long Beach Pride Week festivities.
Garcia said he had "little doubt this was an act of hate," pointing to the lack of any incendiary equipment or materials in the tower that could have caused the blaze to start on its own, such as electrical outlets or natural gas.
According to a statement from the city this week, the investigation into the fire is continuing. But investigators have concurred that "no electrical or heat-related ignition sources were present on the tower."
"Based on witness statements and finding no ignition sources in the tower, this fire is classified as incendiary (arson)," according to the city.
Anyone with information about the fire was urged to call the department's investigative hotline at 562-570-2582.