Long Beach’s rainbow lifeguard tower, painted by lifeguards in June in honor of Pride month, was destroyed in a fire early Tuesday.
Firefighters who responded to the blaze just after midnight found the tower, which overlooked the shoreline near 12th Place, engulfed in flames. An investigation is underway, Long Beach Marine Safety Chief Gonzalo Medina said.
“The tower served as a symbol of our strong support for diversity within our ranks and the LGBTQ community who call Long Beach home,” Medina said. “The tower will be replaced and repainted by lifeguards.”
Long Beach has been ranked by the nonprofit Human Rights Campaign Foundation as a top city for LGBTQ-friendly laws and policies.
Speculations regarding the cause of the fire have already been voiced on social media. While some Long Beach residents think the fire was accidentally set by frequent homeless squatters who sleep in the lifeguard towers at night others, such as Mayor Robert Garcia, say the fire was an act of hate.
The Mayor suspects it’s no coincidence that this was the first lifeguard tower to burn in the city in at least 60 years.
“To have the one lifeguard station that’s burned to the ground be the one that was recently painted in pride colors — that leaves little doubt that this was a targeted incident,” he said. “As a gay man who is also the mayor of a city, I understand that hate incidents still happen. They happen to people I know, and they’ve happened to me.
“We’re going to build that lifeguard station back brighter and better than ever,” he added.