At 8:13 p.m. on February 22, 1978 the San Diego Fire Department responded to one of the city's most spectacular fires. The Electric Building in Balboa Park burned to the ground in a third-alarm fire. The Electric Building housed the Aerospace Museum and contained vintage airplanes, mementos and artifacts. San Diego's contributions to the history of aviation and manned flight--dating from the construction of Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" by San Diego's Ryan Aircraft Company, to rocks taken from the surface of the moon--were destroyed. A valiant attempt by the first and second alarm companies to rescue artifacts and display cases from the building was in vain as fire broke through the ceiling and drove them outside. The fire was caused by arson. There was little to be done to save the 62 year old structure, which was made of wood and contained no sprinkler system.
March 8, two weeks after the Aerospace Museum fire, an arsonist struck again. Again it was a third alarm fire that destroyed San Diego's famous Old Globe Theatre. The loss estimate in the destruction of the 43 year old building was $4 million.