Click here for the LAFD entry level Firefighter Job Bulletin

Five Echo Park Residents Narrowly Escape Inferno

Friday, January 21, 2011 |

On Friday, January 21, 2011 at 6:39 AM, 5 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 2 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 1 EMS Battalion Captain and 1 Battalion Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 32 Los Angeles Firefighters under the direction of Battalion Chief Joseph Klein, responded to a Structure Fire at 1324 Sutherland Street in Echo Park.

Los Angeles Firefighters arrived quickly to find heavy fire showing from a 1,412 square-foot hillside single family home.



Navigating through a slim curbside gate and trio of narrow outside staircases to gain access, firefighters muscled hoselines and later ground ladders to battle intense flames that had taken hold of the front portion of a 106-year-old wood frame structure.

As the aggressive fire attack ensued, firefighters were pleased to learn that the home's five occupants had exited the building with minimal injury, prior to the Fire Department's arrival.

One of the residents however, had foolishly reentered the building in an attempt to reclaim possessions, sustaining smoke inhalation as well as first-degree burns to his neck and arms. In good condition following treatment by LAFD Paramedics, the man declined ambulance transport before being released at the scene.

Despite the diligent efforts of 32 Los Angeles Firefighters, one pet cat perished in the blaze. The well-coordinated assault on the flames held direct fire damage to a large front patio, adjacent bedroom, attic and dormer, with firefighters bringing flames under full control in just 17 minutes.

No other injuries were reported.

The three men and two women who lived separately within the home escaped only with their night clothes. They were assisted with temporary housing and human needs by volunteers from the American Red Cross.

There was no immediate evidence of functional smoke alarms within the home, as required by law. Firefighters later determined that the home's occupants owed their survival solely to the happenstance that one resident was awakened by the sound of fire, and was able to alert others.

Loss to the non-fire sprinklered home is estimated at $95,000 ($75,000 structure & $20,000 contents). The cause of this early morning blaze is categorized as accidental, and attributed to the careless discarding of smoking materials on the patio that ignited combustible furnishings.

(video)

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nearly all of this information is incorrect, but nice try.

Sam in SoCal said...

If you've got a different version of events, and a legitimate source from which you received them, I for one would love to hear. Otherwise, the LAFD was there, talking to others who were also there, and should be given the benefit of any doubt.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 3:03,

Thanks for taking the time to write.

As is typical for our blog posts, the the information was gathered from telephone calls with the Incident Commander and the first-arriving Fire Captain over a day-long period.

As you are likely aware, this fire happened at a frightfully busy time (for our one-man office), as we were still dealing with hundreds of phone calls from global media about a fatality incident in Atwater Village that happened less than three hours earlier.

If perchance we got our wires crossed, I tender a sincere apology.

If there is some manner of significant correction necessary, please let us know in the comments below. If you would prefer e-mail of telephone contact, you'll find my details here. As you might imagine, we (LAFD staff and readers) can offer greater credence to a viewpoint where a name and relationship to the incident is provided.

In closing, please know that we gain no benefit from stating things wrong, yet there can often be differing accounts, especially in the 'fog of war' that happens during a structure fire.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Sercvice,

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

Anonymous said...

I just really appreciated how you came to a 'factual' conclusion about the origins of the fire nearly two days before the fire report was releases to the residents. You obviously have no idea what happened. Once again, nice try.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Sam in SoCal,

We appreciate your vote of confidence, and share your sentiment.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 1:29,

We sense your frustration as an apparent stakeholder in this fire. As mentioned above, the information came to us from colleagues who were on scene and in charge. While we have no reason to doubt their statements, we'll be pleased to triple-check with them when they return to duty.

That much said, please do not hesitate to ask for any assistance or guidance we may offer for physical and emotional needs after the fire.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam, my legitimate source comes from actually living in this house.
not from working a desk pr job.
but thanks for your fearless contribution into a discussion in which you have nothing of merit to say

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 8:34,

There is really no need for anyone to attack Sam in SoCal, for as best we can tell, he simply stated "I for one would love to hear" that anonymous person's (your?) account of what happened.

You may have somehow read into his words, but he does not seem worthy of such vitriol or an ad hominem attack.

Sam is apparently still politely waiting for a named person to support the somewhat bellicose opening allegation that (and we quote) "nearly all of this information is incorrect".

As clearly stated above, your Los Angeles Fire Department stands ready to assist you and/or other stakeholders in your recovery from this incident. Let me assure you as someone who deals with these things daily, that anger and illogical frustration can only hinder the path to recovery and wellness.

In closing...

While you're most welcome to take a venemous swing at someone you don't know working as you say "a desk PR job", you should at the very least know that THIS public servant was quite vocal in advocating for your needs in countless forums where the fire was discussed, including here.

Yes Anonymous 8:34, like every man and women who has worn an LAFD uniform, I'm in your corner, I've got your back, and I most certainly mean what I say :)

When the time comes when I or any member of your Los Angeles Fire Department can be of further assistance, you need but ask. It's been that way for nearly 125 years, and we don't ever see that changing.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service (and with sincere wishes for your wellness...)

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

NOTE TO ALL: See our comment policy. Direct your comments to an issue or specific concern and not another commenter. Offer your opinion or ideally facts and support them, rather than attacking the viewpoint of another. Thanks! -BH-

Hockey Joe said...

Did anonymous take the time to read the 3rd comment above written by Mr. Humphrey?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you were quite vocal in insinuating that the cause of the fire was derived from the so called careless actions of the residents re:smoking. An opinion you posted, publicly, to be read as fact two days before the official fire report was released. Which, might I add, lists the soure of the blaze as 'other' ie inconclusive. To anyone who has physically seen the house in question, this lazy preliminary report is laughable, as it was clearly started by the power box and wiring located directly adjacent to the porch.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the person upset with the FD's findings doesn't want to admitt that the fire was the fault of a "friend" at the location. This would be a first. NOT!!

Is is possible that the FD came to the wrong conclusion? Possible, but not often.

Who's word would you take, the person that has a stake in the outcome or the person that has no dog in the fight?

If I had a dime for every person that said "it took the FD 20 mins to get here" when it was closer to 6mins, I would retire.

I would take the word of the fire officers on the scene over that of someone that wasn't involved in the firefight anyday.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Hockey Joe,

While we hope s/he read it, we're most appreciative that you did.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 7:29,

We appreciate your confidence in our efforts - which remain just that at the moment :)

We're here to help people before, during and after a fire, and that includes sharing incident information presented concisely by those on scene & in charge, that can help save lives (Functional Smoke Alarms, Get Out Stay Out, Care with Smoking Materials etc.).

The biggest challenge in getting to the root of this message thread has been the initial post that VERY broadly took exception with nearly all I had written.

After some more (rather snarky) anonymous comments, it seems the only issue was and remains the stated fire cause that came directly (verbalized twice) from the Fire Captain who was first to arrive and last to leave the scene of the fire.

As you understand, I didn't put words in his mouth. He outranks me, and as calmly mentioned above, I have nothing to gain from fabricating details.

When the Fire Captain and I return to a parallel tour of duty on Sunday, I'll be pleased to again review the data and statements and make any necessary updates. That's been the plan from the start.

Until that time, the cause remains stated as it has been from the outset: Accidental, and attributed [emphasis added] to carelessly discarded smoking materials.

There is certainly (as mentioned in my comment #3 above)a possibility that the Captain came across other evidence, etc. That's why I mentioned the possibility that 'wires crossed' and tendered an interim apology you can read above.

Again, thanks. If something changes, you'll read about it here. Until then, please stay safe!

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Dear Friends,

Thanks for your patience in awaiting this final reply.

In response to the broad concerns outlined in the initial anonymous comment (we offer this blog so that folks can politely express their thoughts publicly), we spent 4 full office hours reviewing *all* of the 9-1-1 calls, the dispatch logs, and every minute of radio traffic and record related to this fire that was available to our office; as well as many videos and still images of the blaze posted to the internet.

We also spoke by telephone with several tenured Firefighters, Company Officers and LAFD Command Staff that were on scene.

As the allegation was that 'nearly all' of the information in the initial blog post (above) was 'incorrect', we separated and examined each of the ten paragraphs in a fact-finding mission.

Finally...

We spoke with the Incident Commander, a 34 year veteran of the LAFD - and a fire service leader of impeccable character who despite his busy schedule, willingly returned to inspect the scene of the fire with a fresh mindset.

At the conclusion of this process, it has been our decision to allow the declaration as posted to remain as earlier and always described:

This fire was accidental.

The attribution of 'careless discarding of smoking materials' will also remain.

It should be noted that anything less than an exhaustive search and removal of every ash and by-product of smoking into a sealed metal container and (then soaked thoroughly with water before) the attachment of a tight-fitting non-combustible lid, followed by remote storage from any building or flammable item, is considered being less than careful.

NOTE: The reason we suggest and support such an intense everyday effort is due to the fire on Suthermand - and this recent blaze in Winnetka.

As we move forward, please let us all remember to:

- Have functional smoke alarms as required by law.

- Have a well planned and practiced home escape plan, that includes an emphasis on Get Out, Stay Out!

- Exhaustively inspect in and around our homes for fire hazards before bed every night, especially if smoking is allowed.

- Join the men and women of the LAFD in supporting relief organizations such as the American Red Cross.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

Post a Comment

Comments to this blog are approved or disapproved without editing.

We seek to offer a broad cross-section of *public* thoughts that are specific to the topic at hand and genuinely polite in tone - regardless of opinion.

Kindly post your comments below.