On Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 6:29 AM, 8 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 7 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 3 Arson Units, 1 Rehab Unit, 1 Hazardous Materials Team, 3 EMS Battalion Captains, 2 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 72 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel under the direction of Battalion Chief Jose S-Cronenbold, responded to a Greater Alarm Structure Fire at 4822 Tilden Avenue in Sherman Oaks.
Los Angeles Firefighters responded quickly to discover an apparent one-story single family home thoroughly involved with fire. With reports of one or more persons trapped by the blaze, first arriving firefighters commenced a profoundly aggressive and well-coordinated interior attack with hoselines on the well entrenched flames.
With both speed and skill, additional firefighters laddered what proved to be a combination one- and two-story residence, the uppermost portion at the rear of the home an apparently non-professional addition.
Rooftop firefighters used power saws and hand tools to deftly ventilate thick, superheated smoke from the wood frame and stucco structure, in an effort to minimize oppressive conditions for fire attack and search teams below.
Additional firefighters soon provided emergency medical care to a 58 year-old man, a 50 year-old woman and a 12 year-old girl who had escaped the inferno with varying injuries - each verbalizing that a teenage male from their family remained trapped by the raging fire.
In a relentless search of the 3,000+ square foot building with zero visibility and oven-like conditions, a team of firefighters discovered a narrow metal spiral staircase leading to a level above the first floor.
Climbing glowing hot steps and searing hand rails in multiple attempts, firefighters found the missing 14 year-old male pulseless and non-breathing with severe full-thickness burns. After being carried down the serpentine steps and outside to waiting colleagues, the teenage boy was provided CPR and Advanced Life Support by veteran LAFD Firefighter/Paramedics at the scene.
The first arriving 70 firefighters confined the fire to the structure of origin, fully extinguishing the flames in just 37 minutes.
The 58 year-old male resident was determined to have second- and third-degree burns to his right forearm and second degree burns to his right foot, reportedly in an attempt to reenter the home prior to the Fire Department's arrival. The preteen girl experienced progressive respiratory distress after smoke exposure.
The rescued teen male - in grave condition, as well as the man and preteen girl, each in serious condition, were taken by LAFD Ambulance to nearby Sherman Oaks Hospital for primary care.
The 50 year-old woman who escaped the flames without obvious physical injury declined medical treatment and transportation, as did a neighbor with respiratory concerns who was later referred to his private physician.
Also sustaining potentially debilitating though non-life threatening injury in fire attack and rescue efforts were four Los Angeles Firefighters. Three sustained painful second-degree burns to hands and extremities, and were taken to the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, while the fourth was taken to an area hospital for a significant knee injury.
Each of the aforementioned LAFD personnel were treated as outpatients and released to remain off-duty.
In examining the fire's aftermath, there was no immediate evidence of a functional smoke alarm within the home. Though no window bars or security doors were present to impair egress, the design, size and placement of windows and other key architectural elements of the home's questionable addition, could have easily hampered and possibly prevented the teenage boy's escape.
The 86-year old building was not equipped with residential fire sprinklers.
Monetary loss from the fire is estimated at $440,000 ($350,000 structure & $90,000 contents). The cause of this early morning fire remains under active investigation.
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Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department