3 Firefighters Injured At Huge Industrial Blaze In South L.A.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 |

On Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 at 11:43 PM, 41 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 21 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 3 Arson Units, 1 Urban Search and Rescue Unit, 1 Rehab Unit, 1 Hazardous Materials Team, 3 EMS Battalion Captains, 8 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team and 2 Bulldozers under the direction of Deputy Chief Mario Rueda responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire at 761 East Slauson Avenue in South Los Angeles.
More than 200 Los Angeles Firefighters were requested over the course of the incident to help battle a blaze at a large two-story commercial structure that encompassed six occupancies over an entire city block. Firefighters quickly arrived at United Alloys and Metals to find heavy fire at an industrial facility known for processing titanium and super alloy scrap.

© Photo by Mike Meadows. Click to view more...The 73 year-old structures between Paloma Avenue and Mckinley Avenue, were quickly engulfed in flames and forced firefighters into a defensive attack early during this huge fire fight. Shortly after midnight the decision was made to pull all Firefighters out of the structure and attack the flames from the exterior. Approximately 20 minutes following this decision a partial wall collapse, roof collapse, and a total of three explosions took place. These massive blasts rained down debris of concrete and titanium on Firefighters and even shattered windows of emergency vehicles. From this point forward it became a heavy stream operation with ladder pipes and portable monitors that provided huge volumes of water against the intense flames. Despite the challenges of extinguishing burning titanium and the devastating explosions, the blaze was controlled in just five hours. Exhausted Firefighters were relieved the next morning by their colleagues who continued the extended overhaul and detailed salvage procedure. Firefighter/Specialists certified in heavy equipment operation brought LAFD tractors to the scene to assist in the painstaking extinguishment of debris, an effort that continued through out the balance of the next day. Building and Safety Inspectors were also called to assess the structural integrity of the buildings.
© Photo by John Conkle. Click to view more...
Three firefighters were injured, two sustained small but severe burns to their hands, one of which also had burns to his ears and low oxygen saturation. The third firefighter injured his ear drums. All three were treated at local hospitals.

The damage has been estimated at $5,000,000 ($4,000,000 structure & $1,000,000 contents). The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The LAFD battled a similar blaze at 900 East Slauson Avenue on Friday, June 11th of this year.

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Submitted by Erik Scott and Cecil Manresa, Spokesmen
Los Angeles Fire Department


Anonymous said...

I remember the comments from the June 11th fire. I also wish that best practices and lessons learned from the june fire would have or could have prevented the explosions reported in this fire. Water on metal fires, especially Titanium, are terrible combinations. In fact the explosion in this one was likely a hydrogen explosion as the water dis-associated into oxygen, absorded by the titanium leaving the hydrogen to "explode" with air (recombine with oxygen). WWW.titanium.org group might be able to assist firefighters in the future and across the country.

Robert Jack said...

Sad news for americans

Chad Snyder said...

I wish the injured firefighters a speedy recovery and a safe return to their company. In a time of "brown outs" and budget shortfalls LAFD firefighters continually do more with less. I hope this gamble doesnt cost a firefighter or citizen their life.

Chad Snyder

Anonymous said...

If something of this nature were to happen in our Fire and Rescue Service, heads would roll. Even the most junior member of our Brigade knows you don't apply water on burning Titanium. How shameful you chose not to learn from 11 June. For heavens sake, get your men some training.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Thank you for your candid comments. Please know that your concerns have not fallen on deaf ears and have been forward to our commanders.

Erik Scott

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Here’s an update on our injured Firefighters:
Two of the members were treated and released; the third was admitted for observation and was sent home July 14th.
At both fires, all indications are that the explosions were the direct result of the application of water on burning titanium products. While some training literature on the subject of titanium fires indicates that copious amounts of water using coarse droplets may be appropriate, other literature indicates that any amount of water or run-off on burning titanium is dangerous. Our experience during these two fires supports the view that any water applied is dangerous and could lead to an explosion.
While protecting exposures is still appropriate, hose streams, heavy streams, or runoff must not come into contact with combustible metal fires.
In an effort to capture as much detail as possible regarding Department operations and make the most of the lessons learned from these incidents, the Emergency Services bureau is directing all Commanders to form a letter detailing the following information:
Time dispatched to/released from the incident
Incident assigned to
Time on scene/checked into staging
Initial assignment
Supervisor reporting to
Description of actions taken
Successes/difficulties encountered
Lessons learned
Additional information deemed pertinent

Erik Scott

Anonymous said...

I would like to obtain a copy of the letters from the Commanders. Will they be available in an official report?

TS said...

Im also interested by this report. Please update us on its availability when you can. Thanks!

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Please know the LAFD has taken these fires very seriously. As more information is gathered regarding these recent metals fires we will continue to do our utmost to provide them to the public.

This significant incident has caused the Department to review existing Fire Prevention, Fire Protection and Emergency Response procedures as they pertain to combustible metals. The most effective method to ensure firefighter safety against the hazards of combustible metals is the identification of their presence and the application of the appropriate firefighting strategy. Therefore, the Emergency Services Bureau is partnering with the Fire Prevention Bureau (FPB) to ensure all risks associated with combustible metals are addressed through a three-phase approach.

Phase I – Field survey of businesses utilizing combustible metals. Members at all fire stations will conduct a survey of the businesses within their district that utilize combustible metals.

Phase II – Follow-up inspection by FPB Inspectors for those businesses identified in the field survey. Upon receipt of the field survey results, FPB Inspectors will conduct a thorough inspection to ensure appropriate NFPA 704 placarding, accurate inventory records, and proper storage techniques.

Phase III – Pre-fire training drills for those businesses identified as a significant risk will be coordinated by the respective Battalion Office.

Field members are to survey their first-in districts for the purpose of identifying all businesses that may utilize combustible metals.

Due to their light weight and strength characteristics, combustible metals are increasingly being used in products such as portable electronic devices, sporting goods, and aircraft. Typical businesses within Los Angeles that utilize combustible metals include: metal fabricating shops, metal recycling yards, automobile part fabricators, golf club manufacturers, die casting operations, paint manufacturing and many others.

Officers are to submit their completed surveys to their Battalion Office for forwarding through channels.

Erik Scott

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