Ortiz also said because of the nature of the structure, there is no estimated dollar loss. The damage cannot be measured in money, said former Cultural Arts Administrator Margaret Hammon, who oversaw the project nine years ago. “It’s a tremendous loss,” she said hours after learning of the fire, “not only to the Tongva people who built it, but to the schoolchildren who used it to learn about California Indians.” “They were able to study about the remarkable group of people who lived in Santa Fe Springs for thousands of years,” she said. Unlike Native Americans in other parts of the country, the Tongva had a permanent village and were not nomads. Attracted to the hot springs and wildlife of the area, the Tongva built a village somewhere in close proximity to Heritage Park. Their dwellings, known as Kiches, were dome-shaped structures made of willow and tule reeds. The exhibit features the structures, tools and plant material essential to their life. Hammon called the effort to build the hut a “labor of love” for members of the Tongva tribe, who live in San Gabriel. “It was a very challenging project because there were no photos of the \ huts,” she said. “It took a lot of inventiveness.” She said the pieces of thatch were manually cut and the structure was put together by hand. All that is left of the Kiche hut is its metal skeleton. “We will build again,” said Hammon, who will speak with Tongva Chief Anthony Morales about what the tribe wants to do. In the meantime, Heritage Park officials intend to open the display, minus the area of the hut, by today. “The exhibit is closed while the area of the Kiche hut is being cleaned,” said Wayne Bergeron, management assistant of the Department of Community Services. Anyone with information about the fire is urged to call the Santa Fe Springs Police Service Center at (562) 409-1850. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Damage was limited to the structure, Ortiz said. “There is no evidence that something caused it other than possible vandalism or any other suspicious act,” she said. The Santa Fe Springs fire marshal and the Whittier Police Department, which patrols the city, are conducting the investigation. The Police Department interviewed business owners near the facility, Ortiz said. Witnesses, she said, reported seeing three people running from the scene as the fire was breaking out. SANTA FE SPRINGS – A symbolic Tongva Indian thatch structure that took a year to build went up in flames in minutes early Wednesday at Heritage Park. A 15-foot hut, known as a Kiche, was destroyed in a non-injury fire of suspicious origins at 1 a.m., said Janet Ortiz, Santa Fe Springs Fire Department public information officer. “One engine responded to a call that was first described as a rubbish fire,” she said. When four fire personnel arrived, the structure was fully engulfed and took 10 minutes to extinguish.