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Authorities say cause of fire ‘does not look suspicious’

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By Eric Heinz

A fixture of San Clemente youth sports was damaged by a fire early Sunday morning, Oct. 23.

The Arlie Waterman Field snack bar was destroyed as well as the announcers box and portions of the backstop. The total monetary loss is estimated to be $125,000 to the structure and $25,000 to its contents, authorities said. No injuries were reported from the incident.

Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Bill Lackey said firefighters responded to a call at 1:28 a.m., and the fire was under control in about 10 minutes. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Lackey said the cause of the fire “does not look suspicious.”

A few teenagers, young children and parents stopped by Sunday afternoon to see the wreckage. Dave Smith, who grew up playing baseball on the field and coached his children on it, also came to the field.

“It’s just sad. As a kid I grew up about a half mile away from here, rode my bike five days a week to come over here and play,” Smith said. “The entire league (used to be) based out of here, ages 7 to 12. This is where I developed my passion for baseball.”

Smith said the structure has stayed the same throughout its history, with the exception of some new coats of paint.

Reaching 200 feet from home plate to the outfield fence, the ballpark is nestled in a hidden corner of a neighborhood, located at 402 Calle Bahia at Vista Bahia Park, just across from one of the holes of the San Clemente Municipal Golf Course. It’s not far from the coastline, but foliage—including two giant trees beyond center field—and homes block its view of the ocean and nearby surroundings.

According to a San Clemente Times article by the San Clemente Beaches Parks and Recreation Department in 2011, Arlie Waterman Field was built in 1954 and hosts various ages of youth baseball teams. Its name was dedicated in 1994 after Arlie Waterman, who was the city’s superintendent of Parks and Recreation for 22 years and one of the founders of San Clemente Little League.

It is unknown at this time what the city intends to do with the structure in this condition.

Editor’s note: This is a developing story. We will provide more information when it becomes available.

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