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Sherman Oaks Inferno Injures Residents and Firefighters

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 |

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.

(photos) (video) (video)

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

First let me start by saying hoping for the kids to have a full recovery. Now regarding a non functional smoke alarm, the parents when they recover should be arrested and charged with child endangerment. Shame on them there are two brand new Honda Pilot Suv's in the driveway and no money for a working smoke alarm. Both parents are Darwin award winners. Shame on them.

Anonymous said...

Were any fire or rescue companies that would have responded closed due to budget cuts? The public has a right to know and should be informed by the Fire Department anytime a fire station that would have responded to a call is closed.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to the family and to the young man who is fighting for his life. May God comfort you and give you strength to overcome what lies ahead for you. A big thank you to all the service men and woman who helped tackled that fire and especially those who rescued the teenage boy. You are all in our family prayers. You are America's heroes. For your unselfish acts and endless rescues- every one of you deserve to be commended- everyday. You have America's upmost respect!!

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 12:05,

We understand your passion and share the pain in believing that one or more factors in this tragic fire may have been preventable. We also pray for the injured boy and his family.

That much said, this blog's statement "In examining the fire's aftermath, there was no immediate evidence of a functional smoke alarm within the home" is indeed a preliminary observation that will be borne out by the more detailed efforts of LAFD Investigators, who continue to work on this case.

BTW, a sizeable number of residential smoke alarms across our city are found to be inoperative due to missing or discharged batteries, improper placement and lack of maintenance.

Maybe most telling is that many (most?) consumers fail to read the important instructions that come with every smoke alarm, and are unaware that after millions of sensing cycles, a smoke alarm should be replaced - at least after ten years of service life.

Again, let us not be too quick to judge this family, which is experiencing unfathomable pain.

Let us instead (at this moment) be inspired to survey our homes and prepare our loved ones for the very real threat of a fire in our homes.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 12:45,

Since you are on the job, you likely have learned that the Modified Coverage Plan (MCP) is not believed to have been a factor in this fire.

You said...

"The public has a right to know and should be informed by the Fire Department anytime a fire station that would have responded to a call is closed."

As you know, the MCP is the default status of assigning LAFD resources on a daily basis. There is no debate that the public has a right to know (their elected and appointed policymakers have very publicly acknowledged, debated and approved MCP), and the MCP schedule is very efficiently and accurately portrayed via an interactive feature at UFLAC.ORG

That much offered, with more than 2,200 LAFD *responses* each day to more than 1,000 incidents and our office woefully understaffed, can one reasonably expect our one-man office (to use your words) inform the public "anytime a fire station that would have responded to a call is closed."?

Let there be no mistake: MCP is an "every minute of the day" issue for every member of our Department.

When the MCP is even remotely suspected to have caused an untoward outcome (e.g. loss of life) it is the Battalion Chief assigned as the LAFD Community Liaison Officer (way up the food chain from us) who will address such concerns and share the facts at the completion of an appropriate investigation.

I appreciate your taking the time to write, but would be even more appreciateive if you would pick up the phone so we could chat. There are indeed protocols, policies and procedures too numerous to mention here, and I want to make sure you're aware of what is really happening behind the scenes in regards to MCP.

I look forward to hearing from you on a future 'B' Shift.

Fraternally Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 2:34,

Thank you for the kind words of respect and support. We're honored to be pubic servants, and the work you describe is indeed part of our job.

Fire is an easily underestimated danger. Most Americans are surpised to learn that annually in the USA (2008 stats):

- 3,320 civilians lose their lives as the result of fire.

- 16,705 civilians are seriously injured as the result of fire.

- 118 firefighters are killed while on duty.

- Fire kills more Americans than all natural disasters combined.

Please help us by living a fire safe lifestyle and helping others to do the same.

Again, thank you.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

NZ_gal said...

So you are saying that everytime children are endangered in a house fire their parents should take the blame? - yeah that´s going to work - leave them children with no parents while they spend time in jail? Nice one. I am sure this will be a huge wakeup call - it usually is. If the father sat back and did nothing, then shame on him, but he didn't, he risked his life to save his family. Well done.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

NZ_Gal,

Frustration does abound when there is loss of life, especially when it involves young people.

We are sad to share that since this article was posted, the gravely injured boy has died.

In his memory and honor, let us best devote time and effort to enhancing fire safety in our own homes and among those we love.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

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