Investigators with the Santa Monica Fire Department are trying to determine the cause of a blaze that tore through the Dakota Lounge on Wilshire Boulevard Tuesday. (photo by Brandon Wise)

WILSHIRE BLVD — Investigators with the Santa Monica Fire Department today are trying to determine the cause of a blaze that tore through the Dakota Lounge early Tuesday morning, destroying everything but the music venue’s sound board and stage.

No injuries were reported, said SMFD Division Chief Kent Coble.

The fire broke out around 4:30 a.m. at the night club, located at 1026 Wilshire Blvd. Nearly 20 fire fighters responded to the scene and found flames coming from where the roof used to be, Coble said.

“There was so much fire damage,” he said. “The roof completely collapsed.”

Fire fighters took on the blaze from the outside, fearful the structure could collapse, and were able to extinguish the fire quickly, keeping it contained to the lounge, which is located next to several small businesses.

Fire officials could not give an estimate on the cost of the damage, however, the venue’s owners said nearly everything was covered in water and soot.

“There’s no roof, my entire office is gone, my laptop looks like a chewed piece of gum, my printer, everything is gone. I literally walked up stairs to my office and said, ‘There goes my life,’” Sabrina Roark, who owns the venue along with Alex Fieglein, said Tuesday afternoon.

“I think I’m still in shock.”

Roark and Fieglein purchased the space, formerly known as the Temple Bar, in 2008 with hopes of creating a unique, fan-friendly atmosphere where music lovers could relax and dance to independent and international artists on the cusp of going mainstream. The venue, which hosted several charity events, was one of the few places to catch live music on the Westside and was starting to attract a loyal following when the fire broke out, the owners said.

July was supposed to be a big month for Dakota, Roark said, with several acts booked, including rapper Skee-Lo, who penned the late 1990s hit “I Wish.”

Now Heather Rae, vice president of booking and promotions, is scrambling to find alternative venues for acts Dakota has booked and promoted. Rae said she and the owners have been putting their heart and soul into the venue, investing what little money they have in building its reputation. The fire is devastating, she said.

“We don’t have corporate sponsorship,” Rae said. “The two owners work behind the bar every night. This is pretty much a staff of three. This is pretty much our livelihood. … We’re just trying to sort this out and remain positive.”

Roark hopes to re-open in August.

Anyone with information regarding the fire is urged to contact the SMFD at (310) 458-8651

kevinh@www.smdp.com

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