Dozens Displaced in Koreatown Apartment Blaze

Friday, September 17, 2010 |

On Friday, September 17, 2010 at 8:37 AM, 23 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 6 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 4 Arson Units, 1 Urban Search and Rescue Unit, 1 Rehab Unit, 1 Hazardous Materials Team, 2 EMS Battalion Captains, 5 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 152 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel under the direction of Assistant Chief David Yamahata, responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire at 614 South St Andrews Place in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Firefighters arrived swiftly to find heavy fire in the attic of a six-story 58 unit center-hallway apartment building.

Dozens of residents, protected in the fire's incipient stage by building features compliant with the Ponet Square and Dorothy Mae Ordinances of the Los Angeles Fire Code, were able to exit safely as firefighters extended handlines through windows and up several flights of stairs to keep flames at bay.

One resident complained briefly of difficulty breathing, but declined treatment or transportation following his medical assessment by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics.

Firefighters rescued or oversaw the safe 'shelter in place' protection of many dogs and cats in several pet-populated apartments. The flames were confined to the common attic and roof of the building of fire origin, and extinguished in just 62 minutes.

No other injuries were reported.

Despite LAFD holding direct fire damage above living areas in the 83 year-old Versailles Apartments building, the entire structure was deemed untenable pending repair of fire damage and restoration of utilities.

As many as thirty residents were referred to the American Red Cross for temporary assistance, which included emergency shelter with adjacent pet accommodations provided by the City of Los Angeles Department of Animal Services.

Loss from the blaze has been estimated at $1.2 million ($900,000 structure & $300,000 contents), a figure greatly lessened during the firefight by swift property protection and diligent salvage efforts by teams of Los Angeles Firefighters, who spent nearly ten hours at the scene.

Acting with knowledge that a small non-injury blaze - extinguished by fire sprinklers, had been intentionally set 28 hours earlier in an adjacent and co-owned building at 608 South St Andrews Place, a cadre of Investigators from the Los Angeles Fire Department's Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section were joined by an Investigator from the U.S. Department of Justice (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) in a comprehensive investigation that included use of an accelerant detecting canine.

Following the team's thorough on-site analysis, the cause of Friday morning's attic fire was confidently declared accidental, and "most probably electrical" according to Investigators.

The investigation of possible gunfire heard in the neighborhood earlier that morning was a matter handled separately by Los Angeles Police Department officials.

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Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


Anonymous said...

Dear Brian, Thanks for all your hard work, just as a thought, this pre- 43 URM center hall was not equipped with Ponet doors...
Keep up the good work! :)

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 12:22,

My sincerest thanks for the note. I sense you know I warmly welcome corrections and clarifications of any information I may post on-line. Clearly, the citizens we serve deserve nothing less.

As most know, there is much taking place in our office, and more often than is acceptable, I'm an imprecise communicator - or just plain get things wrong :)

In regard to the involved building, I received a 'checklist' reply from responders indicating the building's compliance with applicable elements of the Los Angeles Fire Code, including 'features' of the the 'Dorothy Mae' and 'Ponet Square' Ordinances.

I didn't further investigate their reply to the point of affirming each element, and other than conveying code/ordinance compliance, did not intend to state that Ponet Doors were present.

Again, thanks for the note. I am out of town this week, and will make any necessary update when I get back to Los Angeles.

In closing, I am honored that you read this blog and even further so that you take time to offer constructive feedback.

Fraternally Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

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