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Hidden Springs Cafe razed by flames

Hidden Springs Cafe, a haven to bikers, a coffee stop for commuters and a home to owner Jim Lewis and his family, has been consumed by the wildfire raging through the Angeles National Forest, authorities confirmed Tuesday.

“It was completely razed," said Tom Zeulner, information officer for the Station fire. “The fire’s burning so intensely that everything is consumed.”

Zeulner said that on Tuesday, an inspection team went to the punchbowl-shaped canyon where the beloved cafe once stood and discovered that all the buildings in the area had burned to the ground. With no more fuel to consume, the fire had moved on, sparing only a of couple trailers, Zeulner said.

Lewis, who ran the business for 32 years, said a number of his customers and friends had called him to say they saw the cafe site on a television broadcast Tuesday morning. People recognized the lone, old-fashioned phone booth standing amid ashes because it is the only one in the Angeles National Forest, he said.

Lewis said he was riddled with guilt for not having been able to save any of his mother’s belongings from her home above the cafe.

On Sunday afternoon, Lewis and his brother Otis tried to save the cafe with hoses and pumps until they saw a wall of flames coming over the ridges and were forced to flee. “I was too arrogant to think that I could win,” he said. “I should’ve known better. I should have known I can’t win against something like that.”

-- Victoria Kim
Comments () | Archives (37)

If I am not mistaken this cafe was the one on Angeles Crest Forest Highway which was located about 9 miles up ACH and about 6 miles in on the ACFH. It had a phone booth outside (that hadn't worked in quite some time) I was up there actually looking at a house for rent about 2 months. That is when I met the owner of the cafe. He directed me to the house I was looking for across the street and next to his. I just wanted to let you know that my prayers are with you and the gentleman next door (with the rental). as well as everyone who lost something or someone or whatever the case may be. May the Lord restore everything that you lost 10 fold.

I stopped at The Hidden Springs Cafe on Aug 22, a few days before the Station Fire started, and posted a picture to my blog. It is very sad to read that this special place is gone. I hope that the family an re-build it.

In a larger article, Lewis said he DID leave when instructed by the fire department, who did not help them.

I have only been to the Cafe twice but my wife and I loved it. The ortega burger was awesome, and we loved the old counter and funny folks. It was a landmark. I hope it will be rebuilt, and with the classic charm it had.


My heart goes out to you and everyone on the Mountain. It has been many years since we have seen each other. We had good times as kids and I know you will bounce back. I hope with all my heart you are able to rebuild in the future. Try not to beat yourself up for what you were unable to save but be greatful you got out with your life. I know your mom will understand.


I am very sorry to hear that the cafe was lost. It's a landmark for all us commuters between the Antelope Valley and the San Gabriel Valley. Nothing I can write here can express how sad I feel at this loss. I hope they rebuild. It was warm, inviting, and welcoming, especially during the holiday season when they had their Christmas lights up.

Too bad the forestry service did nothing to help save the cafe. Most resources were spent on the La Canada fire and the people in the canyon were basically left to themselves with no help from the forestry service or others.

I've been a member of the Lewis family for over 32 years, previously the forestry has always helped, however this time, they just drove by.

Hidden Springs ,Owned and run by the Lewis Clan, Has for years been the ideal
place in the Angeles Forest to stop for a cup of Coffee and the best Bacon Cheeseburgers on earth.
A place where all were welcomed with a smile .
It was an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the big city an hour away.
It had the best collection of "Smokey the Bear" Posters I've ever seen.
It was one of those places where "Everyone knew your name"
Places like this are rare jewels, and it's a loss to all who enjoyed the peace and quiet of this unique spot. Good luck Jim,Elva,Otis,Janis
Brian R Elms

This is terrible! Although we haven't been riding for many years we all go back to Amos & Elva & Jim and Otis and their sister! This is a shame as a true icon of the Forest Hwy is now gone! A terrible day!

There is a site taking donations for my grandmother's cafe .... http://socalnorton.com/index.html

I had no idea! Just heard! We were at Burning Man when this happened! I am devastated. Hidden Springs was a treasure-pure and simple, and the Lewis' my family away from home. Hidden Springs has been a hideaway and solace for me for many years. I've ridden every bike I've ever owned up there. Please contact me if there is anything I can do. All my love to Jim and the gang...

Very, very sad news about Hidden Springs. I feel bad for Jim, Janice and the family.

There is currently a plan in the works sponsored by the Brit Iron Rebels and Southern California Norton Owner's Club to hold a benefit motorcycle ride to help raise money to rebuild Hidden Springs. Unfortunately Jim was not able to secure fire insurance in that location.

Anyone who rides, keep an eye out for the event, which will be taking place somewhere between November 29th and December 14th.

Otis and me would sit out on that there porch and jam yerr guitars away with the many riders of Hell's Angels here and there during nightfall at times. I am someone he met back in 1986 when the shooting range was in order before that place was shut down after the hired killing took place and had the shooting range swarmming with the Company (Feds) to close it down. Fire is a horrific thing, sure otis could of figured some better excuse to pay his taxes. EEK

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