Public Help Sought in Battling Suspicious Venice Fires

Friday, May 28, 2010 |

The Los Angeles Fire Department is investigating a string of suspicious fires in the Venice area over the past month that may be the work of an arsonist.

City officials are asking local residents to report any suspicious activity and to take common-sense precautions to prevent fires near their homes.

According to Bill Rosendahl, Councilman for the Venice area, "We are determined to keep Venice safe by working together with the community; we will apprehend and arrest the person or persons responsible."

These fires have started as outside fires, mostly in areas such as automobiles, fences and rubbish, but some have extended into a structure, according to Fire Department officials.

The Los Angeles Fire Department Arson Investigators interviewed two individuals in relation to these fire incidents. Currently, no suspects are in custody.

The lead agency is the Los Angeles Fire Department, working in conjunction with the Los Angeles Police Department, Council Member Rosendahl’s office and other allied agencies, including the Santa Monica Fire Department.

Fire officials urge residents to be on alert for suspicious activity. The LAFD recommends that residents lock all vehicles, secure gates and garages, and place rubbish in cans and secure trash cans behind closed or locked fences.

Residents should immediately call 9-1-1 should they discover an active fire; residents are also urged to call the LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section office directly at 213-485-6095 to report suspicious activity or to relay information about any of the recent fires.


Submitted by Captain Tina Haro, Public Information Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Outside Fire Finds Its Way Into a Home

Saturday, May 22, 2010 |

On Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 3:54 PM, 13 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 4 LAFD Rescue Ambulances,1 Urban Search and Rescue Unit,1 Hazardous Materials Team, 3 EMS Battalion Captains, 4 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams,1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, under the direction of Battalion Chief Richard Rideout responded to a Greater Alarm Structure Fire at 3308 Descanso Drive in Silver Lake.

© Photo by Mike Meadows. Click to view more...Fire personnel arrived to find a multi level single family dwelling with heavy fire showing from the patio area to the rear of the structure. Due to a small street way, firefighters had the daunting task of hiking hoselines and equipment a 5th of a mile before reaching the incident. Firefighters mounted a swift exterior attack of the blaze which had destroyed much of the area of origin and extended into the attic of the home. Fire crews placed additional handlines in operation and forced entry to do battle within the residence, while roof teams cut holes to release the super heated gases.

The aggressive and well-coordinated efforts of 94 Los Angeles Firefighters confined the fire to the one structure while protecting the homes on all sides of the incident. Personnel brought the flames under control in less than 60 minutes, despite the extension throughout the 3,000 square foot home.

© Photo by Mike Meadows. Click to view more...One firefighter suffered a second degree burn to a portion of his neck during the fight and was treated and transported to the hospital, and is expected to recover from his injuries. The fire was discovered by the homeowner who was reportedly outside the residence at the time.

No civilians were injured during the incident.

Fire loss to the non-occupied home is estimated at $2,000,000 ($1,500,000 structure & $500,000 contents) the cause is yet to be categorized.

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Submitted by Devin Gales, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Swift Moving Blaze Consumes Studio City Hillside Home

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On Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 12:26 AM, 11 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 2 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 2 Arson Units, 1 Hazardous Materials Team, 3 Helicopters, 1 EMS Battalion Captain, 2 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 78 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel under the direction of Battalion Chief John Drake, responded to a Greater Alarm Structure Fire at 3580 Avenida del Sol in Studio City.

© Photo by Mike Meadows. Click to view more...
Los Angeles Firefighters arrived quickly to find a one-story hillside single family home fully involved with fire.

With light winds from the north and a concern for flying embers igniting volatile vegetation, three LAFD Helicopters were deployed for command support and water dropping capabilities.

Navigating a long driveway with several parked cars, as well as the property's sloped terrain, ground-based firefighters soon encircled the free burning 2,051 square-foot home, negating the need for helicopter water drops but gaining clear tactical advantage from LAFD aerial reconnaissance.

Firefighters confined the fire to the involved structure, sparing an adjacent 833 square-foot building on the premises. They extinguished the flames in just 36 minutes without injury.

The adult male homeowner, alone and asleep within the residence at the time of the blaze, was awakened by the sound of breaking glass and able to escape unharmed prior to the Fire Department's arrival.

© Photo by Mike Meadows. Click to view more...The presence and functional status of required smoke alarms could not be immediately determined. The 66 year-old building was not equipped with residential fire sprinklers.

The property owner's compliance with LAFD brush clearance regulations played a key role in preventing the fire from spreading to neighboring homes.

Fire loss is still being tabulated. The cause of the blaze remains under active investigation.

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Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

San Fernando Electrical Fire Displaces Seven

Sunday, May 16, 2010 |

On Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 4:17 AM, 3 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 2 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 1 EMS Battalion Captain and 1 Battalion Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 22 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel under the direction of Battalion Chief Timothy Ernst, responded to a Structure Fire at 2035 Knox Street in the City of San Fernando.

Los Angeles Firefighters arrived quickly to find heavy smoke showing from a 1 story single family home, and immediately attacked fire within the 1,490 square-foot structure.

Though search and rescue efforts were undertaken simultaneously to fire attack, firefighters were relieved to confirm that all seven occupants and their pets had safely evacuated the smoke-charged home prior to the Fire Department's arrival.

The fire was swiftly confined to an interior closet and larger portions of the home's attic, with flames brought under control in just 22 minutes.

No injuries were reported.

The seven adults displaced by the fire, whose affiliation is unknown, were referred to the American Red Cross for temporary placement and living needs assistance.

The presence of legally required smoke alarms within the home could not be immediately determined. If present, there was no indication of the alarms being functional or playing a role in alerting occupants, one or more of whom were thankfully awake and able to alert others of the fire. The building was not equipped with residential fire sprinklers.

Fire loss to the 72-year old residence has been estimated at $60,000 ($50,000 structure & $10,000 contents). The cause of the early morning blaze is electrical in nature, and is attributed to the improper use of electrical extension cords haphazardly strung throughout the building to a portable generator outside the home.

The reason and duration of the home being without electrical service remains within the purview of Southern California Edison officials.


Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Through the Pre-Dawn Eyes of Rosemary Stevens...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 |

Photo courtesy RosemaryStevens.com - Click to learn more...
Though award-winning authoress Rosemary Stevens has appeared on countless bestseller lists for her Beau Brummell Mystery Series - and other works of fiction, something far from her imagination startled her awake earlier this week in Los Angeles...

At 3am Monday morning, just after Mother’s Day, I was awakened by the sound of running feet and raised voices in the hallway outside my apartment. My son, Tom, met me in the living room both of us wondering what the noise was. I have to admit my first thought was “drunken brawl.”

But it wasn’t anything as tame as a couple of drunks. Through the peephole, I could see five or six masked firemen in full gear standing outside our door, more firemen quickly filling up the hallway. And there was smoke. Lots and lots of thick, yellowish smoke. In seconds, the firemen were pounding on our door and telling us... (read more...)

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

13 Injured From Apartment Fire in Downtown L.A.

Saturday, May 08, 2010 |

On Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 8:46 AM, 18 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 18 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 3 Arson Units, 1 Urban Search and Rescue Unit, 1 Rehab Unit, 1 Hazardous Materials Team, 5 EMS Battalion Captains, 7 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, under the direction of Assistant Chief Michael Little responded to a Structure Fire at 255 South Loma Drive in the Westlake area of downtown Los Angeles.


Multiple 911 calls were received in rapid succession prompting a quick dispatch of firefighters to a three-story Center-Hallway apartment building over a parking garage. Smoke could be seen two blocks away as firefighters approached, they arrived within three minutes to find fire lapping out of the second-story of this 60' x 300' building and some occupants jumping out of second-story windows. Firefighters sprinted into action providing ladders to assist those in need and deployed handlines to aggressively attack the flames while performing a primary search. Additional firefighters were immediately summoned to assist battling the blaze.

LAFD Photo by Harry Garvin. Click to learn more...The 42-unit apartment complex was in compliance with the city's Dorothy Mae Ordinance including hard wired smoke alarms, smoke-activated magnetic fire doors and automatic sprinklers in the parking area, all of which assisted in saving lives. This serves as a good reminder for all to never block open fire doors as this allows smoke and fire to travel and impede occupants from escaping in an emergency.

One unit was completely destroyed by flames and five others were damaged. Over 150 firefighters extinguished the blaze in just 28 minutes however 13 persons received injuries, two of which were in critical condition. There were no security doors, window bars or obvious non-fire factors to impede the victims from exiting the home.

Firefighters remained on scene for over five hours, protecting the homeowners belongings from additional damage during the salvage and overhaul operations. The total dollar loss was estimated at $255,000 ($180,000 structure and $75,000 content). The cause is under investigation and the American Red Cross assisted any displaced occupants.

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD and Coast Guard Handle Dockside Hazmat in Wilmington

Wednesday, May 05, 2010 |

On Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 2:14 PM, 4 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 3 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 2 Hazardous Materials Teams, 1 EMS Battalion Captain, 3 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 43 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel under the direction of Assistant Chief Craig Fry, responded to a Hazardous Material Investigation near 920 West Harry Bridges Boulevard in Port of Los Angeles near Wilmington.

Photo courtesy of TraPac. Click to learn more...Responding to a request from the United States Coast Guard, Los Angeles Firefighters arrived quickly to find a twenty-foot shipping container sitting remotely at the 170 acre harborside TraPac terminal.

According to Coast Guard officials, an employee of their agency became nauseous at approximately 10:30 AM, after encountering fumes during a routine cargo inspection.

The employee was taken to an area hospital long prior to the arrival of Los Angeles Fire Department personnel, and soon thereafter was released from medical care.

First arriving firefighters established a joint command post with USCG upwind from the container of mixed cargo. LAFD Hazmat experts clad in protective gear then swiftly gained access within the steel shipping container to find pallets of 1 gallon containers shrink-wrapped in plastic.

A decontamination and treatment zone was established, but neither of these precautions or evacuations were deemed necessary.

In a laborious process, the LAFD Hazmat team ultimately discovered a 1 gallon vessel which had leaked an unknown quantity of a "base chemical" used in the production of cosmetics. An analysis of the site identified no escalating hazard or need for evacuation.

Pursuant of protocol, the scene was returned to the control of terminal officials and responders from the Health Hazardous Materials Division of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.


Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

San Fernando Valley Blaze Displaces Eight

Monday, May 03, 2010 |

On Monday, May 3, 2010 at 6:12 PM, 6 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 3 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 1 Hazardous Materials Team, 1 EMS Battalion Captain, 3 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 49 Los Angeles Firefighters under the direction of Battalion Chief John Drake, responded to a Structure Fire at 4521 Colfax Avenue in Studio City.

Responding to an initial report of a car fire, Los Angeles Firefighters arrived quickly to find several vehicles well involved, with flames rapidly extending to nearby automobiles and an adjacent 2 story garden-style apartment building.


As additional personnel were summoned, firefighters commenced a swift and well-coordinated attack on the flames, their colleagues soon focusing on strategic vertical ventilation and simultaneous efforts to protect residential belongings. Their efforts proved synergistic, with the flames extinguished in just 31 minutes.

Damage was limited to five unoccupied vehicles and a portion of two apartments, with smoke impacting two adjacent dwelling units.

No injuries were reported.

A total of eight persons, including 4 adults and 4 children from 2 families were displaced by the flames. Both families were provided temporary shelter and disaster assistance by volunteers from the American Red Cross.

Loss from the blaze has been estimated at $200,000 ($120,000 property & $80,000 vehicles).

The fire's origin was isolated to a compact vehicle parked minutes earlier at the carport location. The specific cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

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Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Fire Destroys A Studio In Van Nuys

Sunday, May 02, 2010 |

On Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 1:03 PM, 16 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 3 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 2 Arson Units,1 Urban Search and Rescue Unit,1 Rehab Unit,1 Hazardous Materials Team,1 EMS Battalion Captain, 4 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams,1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, under the direction of Battalion Chief Gerry Malais responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire at 7017 N. Hayvenhurst Ave. in Van Nuys.

The first company arrived quickly to discover heavy smoke and fire showing from the windows and attic area of the 80’ x 100’ two-story commercial building. The modern wood sided structure housed the operations of The Hayvenhurst Studio along a row of 3 similar type businesses.

Firefighters commenced a fierce initial interior attack only to be driven back by a volume flames that were present on the second floor. Other crews on scene simultaneously performed search and rescue operations to confirm no other occupants were in the building.Half-dozen individuals had safely escaped the involved business before the flames grew in intensity.

The fire, that had originally started as an outside fire, spread rapidly making its way into the structure. More LAFD resources were called into action. A total of 109 firefighters tenaciously battled the stubborn flames for one hour and eleven minutes before confining the fire entirely within the occupancy of origin. No other structures were affected.

Happily no civilian or firefighter were reported injured during this incident. The damage has been estimated at $3,000,000 ($2,000,000 structure & $1,000,000 contents). The cause of this early afternoon blaze remains under an active investigation.


Submitted by Devin Gales, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department