Borrego Sun - Since 1949

De Anza Burns


Last updated 11/21/2023 at 1:25pm

Griff Lacey

The rubble of what is left of the De Anza Country Club that unfortunately burned in a fire on October 30. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

A devastating fire has burned down the historic De Anza Country Club, causing nearly $2 million worth of damages. Shortly before 1 a.m., Cal Fire received a call from a nearby resident reporting that they heard an explosion at the club. When crews arrived at the De Anza Country Club at 509 Catarina Drive, the club was up in flames. More than 60 Cal Fire San Diego firefighters were on the scene, coming from all over the county.

There were no reports of any injuries and Cal Fire kept the blaze controlled so that it did not spread to nearby homes and vegetation. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Ramien Shalizi, General Manager of De Anza told the Borrego Sun, "This is not about a clubhouse, it's about people, it's about jobs. De Anza is entering its 67th season and is economically important to our community, and we plan to definitely rebuild. Although 67 years of history went up in flames in a matter of hours, its memory will always live on in our hearts. We chose to fly our flags high amongst the rubble of what was once our beloved clubhouse."

The fire destroyed multiple areas including the Bighorn Room, Coyote Den, ballroom, offices, locker rooms, and outdoor seating. The golf shop was spared.

De Anza was slated to open for the new season on Nov. 4. They were also in the process of a new landscaping and water management system, which would convert 67 acres to Drought tolerant native landscaping. The groundbreaking ceremony was held earlier this year in April, with the first phase commencing on May 1.

De Anza did, however, open for golf on Nov. 4 to make a "clear statement of hope and perseverance to all who rely on us," Shalizi added.

"This is not a time to look back, it's a time to move forward, it's a time to improvise and overcome, it's a time to rise from the ashes." Only nine holes ,were able to be in use, but the club put a great show on and approximately 50 members played, the bar was open and the lunch wagon did a great business. Unfortunately, the annual cocktail party slated for the day before, Nov. 3, obviously had to be cancelled, as did the opening Gala on the Saturday Nov. 4.

Shalizi also sent out a letter to De Anza Members, stating, in part, "I am aware that our members have a great deal of questions but we simply do not have answers at this moment. This will take time. We will continue to make every effort to golf as soon as possible and work through the process of opening the Pro Shop for golf - we will keep you abreast of the unfolding developments."

San Diego County District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond said in response to the fire, "My heart goes out to the Borrego Springs community after the devastating fire at De Anza Country Club this morning," he said on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Grateful for the heroic efforts of Cal Fire San Diego to ensure no injuries. My office will be doing all we can to support and assist the residents during this challenging time."

Shalizi expressed his appreciation, saying, "We truly appreciate the outpouring of heartfelt sympathy and offers of support not only from our membership but the entire community of Borrego Springs."

"We met Supervisor Desmond and his team to discuss future steps and how the county can help all who have been affected by this tragedy. We are thankful for Desmond's support and the county's expedient efforts. Additionally, we thank our first responders Cal Fire and the Sheriffs department for their heroic efforts," he added.

Supervisor Desmond made a visit down to Borrego Springs to the De Anza Country Club to assess the damages along with his team.

Borrego Desert Club was the first social club opened to part time residents and full-time residents. It offered dining, drinks, a pool, and gorgeous views of the valley. The clubhouse, on Tilting T Drive, is currently the University of California, Irvine-Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center. De Anza moved to its current location in the 1950's.

Now, De Anza is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Rosa and San Ysidro mountain range, along a trail forged long ago by Spanish Colonist Juan Bautista de Anza and is the original 1950's "Desert Hideaway." Over the years this area has been a true hideaway for the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Bing Crosby, John Wayne, Lon Chaney Jr., James Dean, the Rat Pack and Burgess Meridith who built his home at de Anza golf estates.

Their par-72 championship desert course was designed by renowned golf course architect Lawrence Hughes and was a favorite course for golf legends such as Sam Snead and Billy Casper.

The community and members will look forward to a new clubhouse and a bright new future.

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