FEMA requests LAFD USAR Task Force

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 |

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the US Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has this morning formally requested an entire complement of Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) specialists from CA-TF1 (“California USAR Task Force One”), an elite 70-member team of Los Angeles Fire Department rescuers.

This team will complement a fourteen-member cadre of LAFD Swift Water Rescue specialists who were deployed Monday to assist with rescue operations in the Gulf Coast region.

There are 28 FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) Task Forces strategically located throughout the continental United States. Eight of these teams are located in California. They are each trained and equipped by FEMA to respond to disasters.

Pursuant of established protocol, specific and real-time public information regarding the actions of these LAFD personnel during the period of deployment will be provided by emergency management officials in the effected area.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Major Emergency Fire in Westchester Office Building

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Los Angeles Firefighters battle Major Emergency Fire at Westgate Center. © Josh Harville  FirelinePhoto.com
On Wednesday, August 31, 2005, at 2:54 A.M. PDT, nineteen companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, one Deputy Chief, one Assistant Chief Officer Command Team, six Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, two Battalion EMS Supervisors, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, three Arson Units, Emergency Air 1, and one Hazardous Materials Squad, under the direction of Assistant Chief Ralph Terrazas, responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire at 8405 South Pershing Drive in the Westchester area.

First units on the scene reported a four-story office building with smoke showing from the fourth floor. On the fire floor, Firefighters encountered heavy smoke and heat in the center hallway portion of the floor leading to the seat of the fire.

Using handlines to make an aggressive attack on the fire in the hallway and offices, Firefighter confined the fire to fourth floor and attic area of the “Westgate Center” and extinguished the fire in fifty-six minutes.

To help control and extinguish the interior fire, Firefighters on the roof cut several ventilation holes through the lightweight concrete roof to detect the progression of the fire in the attic and assist with the ventilation of heat, smoke, and gases through controlled channels.

Two Fire Captains suffering from smoke inhalation/heat exhaustion were transported to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in good condition and no other injuries were reported. Loss from the fire is estimated at $1.5 million ($1,000,000 structure and $500,000 contents). The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Submitted by Jim Wells, Spokesperson
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Assisting Victims of Hurricane Katrina

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 |

LAFD Captain loads USAR water rescue gear for Hurricane Katrina.  © Ryan Ling, FirelinePhoto.com
In response to a formal request made through the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, the Los Angeles Fire Department has mobilized a cadre of specially-trained Firefighters to assist Gulf Coast residents afflicted by Hurricane Katrina.

Fourteen specially-trained Los Angeles Firefighters, four LAFD vehicles, three inflatable boats, technical rescue equipment and supplies have departed for the Gulf Coast via military air transport.

The Los Angeles Fire Department team expects to mesh closely with local, regional, State and Federal resources in responding to acute life safety needs created by storm activity.

Along with skill and experience, these specially-trained Los Angeles Firefighters, all certified in multiple forms of water rescue, will bring compassion and support to the many who have been affected by this monumental storm.

The LAFD water rescue team, a component of our Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, is designed to be remain self-sufficient and highly mobile.

The period of deployment is expected to be no less than three days.

Pursuant of established protocol, specific and real-time public information regarding the actions of these LAFD personnel during the period of deployment will be provided by emergency management officials in the effected area.

We wish to assure Los Angeles residents that the City of Los Angeles remains fully protected by the use of additional staff and reserve apparatus to cover foreseeable local needs.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Puppies Rescued in North Hollywood

Friday, August 26, 2005 |

On Friday, August 26, 2005, at 1:35 PM PDT, two Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters and Los Angeles Fire Department Search and Rescue Squad 88, under the direction of Battalion Chief Raymundo Gomez responded to a Canine Rescue at 7424 North Laurel Canyon Blvd. in North Hollywood.

First arriving units were met by the City's Department of Animal Services and directed to the scene. Firefighters found two structures, separated by a one-foot distance, which was then dissected by a 3-foot block wall with a 4-foot chain-link fence on top.

Further investigation revealed four puppies, estimated to be approximately four weeks old, and said to have been trapped for two days.

In an effort to retain the integrity of both buildings, Firefighters Jamie Heald and Mark Demott expeditiously cut a portion of the chain-link fence and wedged themselves into the cramped aperture.

Once in place, the firefighters attentively lowered a sling-like apparatus, often used by Animal Services for aggressive dogs, and extricated the puppies, one by one, from their confinement.

The puppies, described as a German Shepard Mix, were given water to counter signs of dehydration. Members of Animal Services transported the puppies to a nearby shelter for observation. The puppies are said to be doing well.

Submitted by Melissa Kelley, Spokesperson
Los Angeles Fire Department

Fire in Mid-City, Injures 2, Displaces 10

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On Friday, August 26, 2005 at 9:33 AM PDT, nine Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, three Los Angeles Fire Department Rescue Ambulances, two EMS District Supervisors, two Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and various LAFD support and investigative resources, all under the direction of Assistant Chief Roy Kozaki responded to a Greater Alarm Structure Fire at 2055 Harcourt Avenue in Mid-City.

The first company arrived quickly on scene of a two-story four-plex, to discover heavy smoke and fire from the second floor on the northeast side. The first arriving unit was forced to utilize a Wagon-Battery appliance to knock down the intense flames pushing out of the second story windows before they could proceed with an interior operation.

The hardworking men and women of the LAFD quickly positioned ladders, forced entry and stretched hoselines in a calculated and aggressive attack on the blaze. The fire was knocked down in just 21 minutes.

Two residents were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation the female (age 26) was transported to Kaiser Cadillac Hospital in stable condition. The male (age 23) was treated and released at the scene. Both were in the apartment when the flames erupted, but self-rescued before fire department arrival. The American Red Cross is assisting 10 residents who were displaced due to the smoke and fire damage.

LAPD was called to the scene to assist firefighters with two unruly civilians who were detained.

Cause of the fire is under investigation and loss is being tabulated.

Submitted by Melissa Kelley, Spokesperson
Los Angeles Fire Department

Auto Fire sparks Brush in Sun Valley

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On Thursday, August 25, 2005, at 1416 hours (2:16 P.M. PDT), twenty-four companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, one Deputy Chief, one Assistant Chief Officer Command Team, seven Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, two Battalion EMS Supervisor, four LAFD Rescue Ambulances, four LAFD helicopters, one Arson Unit, the Tractor Company, four Los Angeles County Camp Crews, one Helitanker, two Los Angeles County Helicopters, eight Fire companies from Glendale Fire Department, Firefighters from Angeles National Forest, and other support personnel, under the direction of Assistant Chief Curtis James, responded initially to the report of an auto fire on the West Bound 210 Fwy. East of Sunland Boulevard in the Sunland area.

First units on the scene reported a delivery van fully-involved with fire on the shoulder of the freeway with fire extending rapidly into the exposed brush. A full brush assignment was immediately requested to help control a fire that was spreading rapidly uphill into moderate/heavy brush in rugged terrain.

With precise and effective water drops from the Helitanker, LAFD helicopters and Los Angeles County helicopters on the head of the fire, ground crews aggressively attacked the flanks of the fire with handlines confining the fire to approximately thirty acres of moderate/heavy brush. The fire was extinguished in one hour and fifty-three minutes.

Temperature in the area was about ninety-eight degrees and the winds were very mild. One Firefighter from Angeles National Forest suffering from heat exhaustion was transported to Verdugo Hospital in good condition.

No Structures were threatened and the cause of the fire is listed as an auto fire on the shoulder of the freeway.

Submitted by Jim Wells, Spokesperson
Los Angeles Fire Department

Chlorine Gas Injures 6 in Civic Center Area

Saturday, August 20, 2005 |

On Friday, August 19, 2005, at 9:59 AM PDT, Seven Companies of Los Angeles firefighters, 6 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one LAFD Hazardous Materials Task Force, and two Chief Officer Command Teams under the direction of Assistant Chief Michael Fulmis responded to a Hazardous Materials Investigation at 251 South Olive Street in the Civic Center area.

Quickly arriving first units discovered several patients, suffering various injuries related to inhalation of a toxic substance. Upon further investigation, it was ascertained that a hotel janitor mistakenly commixed two commonly used detergent-type materials, which inadvertently produced a Chlorine gas in the laundry room of the “Omni Hotel”.

Utilizing equipment and the expertise of the specially trained members of the LAFD Hazardous Materials Task Force, the situation was determined to be static.

Four adults were immediately treated and transported to area hospitals. A secondary exploration of the building produced two more adults with related symptoms; both were transported for further examination.

The Los Angeles County Health Department was summoned to the scene and expeditiously determined the Hotel to be safe for occupants.

Submitted by Melissa Kelley, Spokesperson
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Battles Container Fire on Cargo Ship

Saturday, August 13, 2005 |

On Friday, August 12, 2005, at 1108 hours, (11:08 A.M. PTD), nine companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, one Assistant Chief Officer Command Team, three Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, one Battalion EMS Supervisor, three LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Arson Unit, one Foam Tender, and three LAFD Fire Boats, under the direction of Assistant Chief Ralph Terrazas, responded to a Greater Alarm boat fire at 2500 South Navy Way in the Terminal Island/Fish Harbor area.

First units on the scene reported smoke showing from the hull of the docked “Horizon Navigator”, a container ship. Investigating the source of the heavy smoke emitting from a cargo hole, Firefighters quickly ascertained that a fire was in the insulation of a cargo hole cover and in one container in the cargo hole.

Firefighters aggressively used handlines from the deck to attack the fire in the container while LAFD Fire Boats and LAFD ground units simultaneously used heavy streams and handlines to passively cool the hull of the ship. Firefighters contained the fire to the one container and extinguished the fire in just one hour and nine minutes.

Damage was limited to the ship’s insulation, along with the glass and wood products enclosed in the thirty-foot container. Using a dockside crane, seven cargo containers were removed from the cargo hole to insure that the fire had not spread to other containers.

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is listed as the misuse of a welder’s torch & rod.

Submitted by Jim Wells, Spokesperson
Los Angeles Fire Department


Brush Burns in Griffith Park

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On Friday, August 12, 2005, at 1036 hours, (10:36 a.m. PDT), twelve companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, one Assistant Chief Officer Command Team, five Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, one Battalion EMS Supervisors, one LAFD Rescue Ambulances, four Brush Patrols, one water tender, four helicopters and two Los Angeles County Camp Crews, under the direction of Assistant Chief John Ware, responded to a Greater Alarm Brush Fire at 162 Griffith Park in the Griffith Park area.

First units on the scene reported approximately one acre of brush burning on a hillside just below the Griffith Park Observatory.

Firefighter using handlines and aided by water dropping helicopters confined the fire to approximately three acres of moderate brush and grass and extinguished the fire in just one hour and nineteen minutes.

No homes were threatened and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is listed as under investigation.

Submitted by Jim Wells, Los Angeles Fire Department Spokesperson

Brush Fire Scorches Nichols Canyon

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 |

On Tuesday, August 09, 2005, at 1743 hours (5:43 p.m. PDT), fifty companies of firefighters from the Los Angeles Fire Department, one Deputy Department Commander, one Assistant Chief Officer Command Team, seven Battalion Officer Command Teams, one Battalion EMS Supervisor, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, the Tractor Company, four helicopters, one Arson Unit, one Command Post Vehicle, Firefighters, Camp Crews and Command Staff from Los Angeles County Fire Department, and other support personnel, under the direction of Deputy Chief Mario Rueda, responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire at 2000 N. Nichols Canyon Road in the Hollywood Hills West area.

First units on the scene reported approximately 5-10 acres of medium to heavy brush burning on a hillside in steep and almost inaccessible terrain. Firefighters using handlines and aided by helicopter water drops, confined the fire to twenty acres of brush and extinguished the fire in just two hours and thirty minutes.

The fire threatened over a dozen homes but thankfully, none were damaged. No area evacuations were necessary and no injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is listed as the misuse of an open flame at an encampment and one suspect was taken into custody.

Submitted by Jim Wells, Los Angeles Fire Department Spokesperson.

Accident Claims Life of CDF Firefighter, Injures 2

Monday, August 08, 2005 |

The Fire Department is a tight-knit family environment Therefore, if something happens to one of us, it is a loss that is felt throughout. Members of the Los Angeles Fire Department would like to express their deepest sympathy to the Kanton family, as well as our heartfelt concern for the members, and their families, who suffered injury.

The following message was posted by CDF/Riverside County Fire Department on August 7, 2005:

On Saturday, August 6, 2005 at approximately 3:01 p.m. (PDT), Fire Engine #58 from the CDF/Riverside County Fire Department, traveling east on Interstate 10 east of Highway 60 in Beaumont, was involved in a single vehicle accident. The engine left the freeway and traveled down a steep embankment, struck several trees, and came to rest on the roadway below.

As a result of the accident CDF/Riverside County Firefighter Chris Kanton, 24, was fatally injured. Two other firefighters sustained injuries including Firefighter Richard Bruning, who received minor injuries, and was treated and released from a local hospital. Fire Apparatus Engineer Michael Arizaga sustained moderate injuries and remains hospitalized at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for ongoing evaluation and observation.

Firefighter Kanton is survived by his wife of six months, Kathryn. Cards can be sent to the family in care of:
CDF/Riverside County Fire Department
c/o Kanton Family
210 W. San Jacinto Av.
Perris, CA 92570

The California Highway Patrol Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) is conducting the investigation.

CDF/Riverside County Fire Chief Craig Anthony wishes to express his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and injured firefighters. The event deeply saddens all of the members of the firefighting community and affects the members of the CDF/Riverside County Fire Department. Grief counselors have been made available to members of the fire department and family members to assist them through this difficult time.


Additional and updated information can be obtained on-line at: www.rvcfire.org

Car vs Pedestrians in Van Nuys

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On Sunday, August 07, 2005, at 1326 hours (1:26 p.m. PDT) three companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, one Battalion Chief Officer Command Team, one Battalion EMS Supervisor, and six LAFD Rescue Ambulances, under the direction of Battalion Commander Patrick I. Butler, responded to a reported traffic accident at the intersection of West Victory Boulevard and North Kester Avenue in the Van Nuys area.

First units on the scene reported that an out of control vehicle had struck several parked cars and at least four pedestrians on a sidewalk. Further investigation by Firefighters and paramedics revealed that three of the four pedestrians were members of one family. The family included a female adult, a female teenager, (both suffered moderate injuries), and a seventeen year old male that was determined to be dead at the scene.

A nineteen-year old bystander also suffered minor injuries.

There were two females in the out of control car: the driver in her fifties and a passenger in her seventies, both suffered serious injuries. All of the injured victims were triage, treated and transported to local hospitals: Providence Holy Cross, Valley Presbyterian, and Northridge - Roscoe.

The cause of the accident is under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Electrical Fire Damages Valley Furniture Firm

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 |

On Tuesday, August 02, 2005 at 3:58 PM PDT, sixteen Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, six Los Angeles Fire Department Rescue Ambulances, three EMS District Supervisors, four Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and various LAFD support and investigative resources, all under the direction of Assistant Chief Roderick Garcia responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire at 14603 Titus Street in Panorama City.

The first Company arrived quickly to discover smoke showing from a 60’ x 150’ one-story commercial structure.

Firefighters forced entry into the front and rear of the well-secured furniture manufacturing business to discover stubborn fire deep within a mezzanine area that was bordered by and contained immense amounts of dense combustible storage.

Using handlines and aided by their colleagues deftly performing vertical ventilation on the panelized roof, Firefighters mounted a relentless attack on the stubborn flames, which had taken hold of the front-third mezzanine level of the non-fire sprinklered business.

Firefighters extinguished the flames in just 57 minutes, and spared much of the business and adjoining firms from damage.

No injuries were reported.

Loss to “Kalfon Craft”, a manufacturer of fine furniture, is estimated at $400,000 ($100,000 structure and $300,000 contents). The cause of the blaze was determined to be electrical in nature.