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Lake Elsinore leaders will offer reward to find whoever started the Machado Adobe fire

By in Press Enterprise on September 15, 2017

By Michael Williams

Convinced that a recent fire that gutted the 159-year-old Machado Adobe in Lake Elsinore was arson, civic leaders are raising funds to create a sizable reward for information leading to the capture of the perpetrators.

Lake Elsinore activist Ruth Atkins is heading the effort, which seeks to collect at least $5,000 to entice someone to come forward with information that results in an arrest and conviction in the case.

The fund also could be used toward preservation and restoration work on the structure if more than the reward amount is raised or no one claims the bounty, she said.

Because the adobe bricks are composed of mud and withstand fire, those walls are still standing. Other walls that had been erected around the original structure in later years to expand the living area and modernize the appearance were destroyed.

“People are really upset about it and don’t want to see them getting away with it,” said Atkins of the mystery suspects. “So, it’s important to show that we are seriously after whoever did it.”

Just after the Sept. 2 blaze at the Grand Avenue property, Lake Elsinore Mayor Bob Magee pledged a $1,000 reward for a tip leading to the conviction of the culprit if arson was the cause.

The fire at the Grand Avenue property remains under investigation by the Riverside County Fire Department, a spokeswoman said Friday, Sept. 15.

Gary Washburn, a former city councilman and the real estate broker representing the property owner, is participating in the fundraising drive.

He said he believes the fire was deliberately set by one or more transients, based on discussions he had with people who live in the area.

“I’m extremely saddened by the loss of the historical building,” he said. “We’re trying to save the original adobe inside (the house) because it was built in 1858. … […]    

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