One Man Burned, Three Escape Injury in West Hills House Fire

Thursday, January 12, 2012 |

WEST HILLS - One man sustained critical burn injury, and three housemates escaped uninjured, when a fire erupted in a west San Fernando Valley home early Thursday morning.

Reported at 3:14 AM on January 12, 2012, the blaze brought 32 members of the Los Angeles Fire Department to 6531 Sheltondale Avenue in West Hills, where they discovered a one-story 1,570 square-foot home fully involved with fire.

Though two men and two women escaped the burning home, one of the men, age 53, sustained second-degree burns to as much as sixty percent of his body, including his torso, face and airway. In critical condition, he was rushed by LAFD Paramedic Ambulance to nearby West Hills Hospital and Medical Center, which is home to the Grossman Burn Center.

The fire was confined to the structure and flames were fully extinguished in just 20 minutes. The American Red Cross was summoned to provide assistance to the three uninjured adults displaced by the fire.

There was no immediate evidence of functional smoke alarms within the home, nor were there any window bars, security doors or obvious non-fire factors to impede the egress of occupants. The 51-year old residence was not equipped with residential fire sprinklers.

Loss from the fire is estimated at $180,000 ($120,000 structure & $60,000 contents). Though the cause of this early morning blaze remains under active investigation, LAFD Investigators have been able to eliminate construction or design deficiencies as being a cause of this fire.

Dispatched Units: E106 RA906 E72 RA72 E296 T96 EM17 BC17 E100 T105 E305 AR2
Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

why were people out front at 2am screaming stuff?

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 12:45,

Thanks for visiting the LAFD News & Information blog. We trust you join us, family, friends and neighbors in well wishes for the burned man's recovery - and the home's restoration.

Unfortunately, your statement wasn't quite clear to us - especially in a time period well before the fire was reported.

If you believe that a personal observation or concern may assist those researching or recovering from the blaze, kindly contact LAFD Fire Investigators at (213) 893-9800.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

Anonymous said...

I am curious as to how this fire started as we have lived in these tract of homes, for 30 years. My concern is, was it some kind of electrical fire, behind walls or attic, that I need to be concerned with, for my house on Archwood street. Thank You

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 10:20,

The men and women of your LAFD have been honored to protect you for three decades - which may seem long to some, but makes you a relative newcomer to the many in your tract who have proudly your neighborhood home for more than half-a-century :)

On a more serious note, our thoughts continue to be with your neighbors as they seek to survive and recover from a terrible blaze.

We spoke yesterday with the LAFD Investigators handling this case, at which time they declared the case still "under active investigation". We will be speaking with them later today and Monday to follow up on this and other open investigations. As soon as we can share an official cause, we'll update the blog post above -and- this comment thread to include the information we have gleaned.

While awaiting a formal cause declaration, we encourage you and your neighbors to update your knowledge and actively practice fire safety, including an examination and testing of your home smoke alarms - items that did not appear present in your neighbor's home.

Many homes in your area are found to have smoke alarms that have never been tested by occupants, or were never replaced at the end of their ten-year life span. In order to keep your family safe, we suggest doing both today!

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 10:20,

Thanks for your patience as we seek to make contact with the Lead Investigator for details that may best guide your concern.

A quick check today with the staff of our LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section finds no change (yet) from the earlier established status of "under active investigation".

Our next opportunity for contact with the Lead Investigator will be on Friday, at which time we hope he'll be able to share information gleaned from his many hours of on-site examination and interviews; Information we're hopeful will put you and others at ease.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

Anonymous said...

I'm hearing word that this fire was in staion 105's area and that at the time of this fire the ladder truck at staion 105 was on a medical call at the time? I've been told that they should have been the first fire truck at the fire but since they were on a medical call, the first fire truck was from station 106? I heard that it took them 9 minutes to get to the fire due to the distance from station 106. This is unacceptable especially due to the fire department has closed one of the trucks at station 105. If both fire trucks were still open at station 105, one would have been on the medical call and the other would have been first at the fire. It is tragic that this gentlemen was burned so extensively. It is even more tragic that it took double the time to get there and render first aid and put out the fire. The fire chief, mayor and city council need to stop this russian roulette before more people are severly injured or even killed due to these budget cuts.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 1:24,

From San Pedro to Sylmar; from Eagle Rock to Woodland Hills, LAFD personnel respond nearly 2200 times a day to help in unpredictable and unscheduled crisis. Such was the case in West Hills early last Thursday morning.

Just 5 minutes prior to the incident above, crews from the nearest fire station arrived with lights-and-sirens to help a neighbor in need. In the midst of providing her life saving care, the fire on Sheltondale erupted.

Despite far from optimal circumstances and given the resources at hand, your LAFD provided the best possible response to a pair of simultaneous emergencies in one neighborhood.

Every LAFD member responded promptly in accordance with their training, and within Department policy, to do the greatest good - as is their mission. Every factor of our response within human control was handled expertly, efficiently and expeditiously.

In less than 10 minutes, responders were on-scene battling flames - and amazingly turned the tide to have the well involved home fully extinguished in ten more. That other homes were not destroyed or other persons injured, remains a strong testament to the skill and tenacity of LAFD responders.

The only failure we can identify, is our inability to have somehow prevented this fire, which remains both a Departmental and vocational goal.

The factors that led to the man's burn injuries or the advancement of flames, remain under active investigation - yet one must wonder if the presence of code compliant smoke alarms would have somehow lessened the impact of this blaze.

Those living in Los Angeles know that Neighborhood Firefighters respond as quickly and effectively as possible. Such was the case early last Thursday on Sheltondale Avenue.

The job of a Los Angeles Firefighter is not without frustration, and the angst of some is understood and appreciated as a desire to somehow grow our Department in a time where both escalating need and fiscal constraint are an immutable reality.

Like Fire Department's nationwide, the LAFD faces a spiraling workload and a fixed set of resources.

That much said, this is not the first or last time in our 125 year history where the random nature of emergencies can cause someone (including those on the job) to realize that we're not a "stationary sentinel on the street corner" but rather a dynamically deployed citywide workforce seeking to always do the greatest good - even in challenging times.

In closing... by all indicators, you're likely on the job. If you'd like to know how to best focus your efforts for the change you espouse, please have the courage to give me a call.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

Anonymous said...

Has any cause been found for this house fire?

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 5:17,

Thanks for your inquiry and patience. We sadly didn't hear from the Investigator on Friday, and hope that he'll be able to follow up with us on Monday morning.

A public update on this fire is certainly on my (ever-lengthening) to-do list, and I apologize that my schedule has not coincided with that of the very busy Investigator.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

Anonymous said...

Brian. Appreciate your hard work, on everything you do and will keep checking your posts!

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Dear Friends,

Thanks for your patience in what has been a busy week at your Fire Department.

Though Federal law prohibits our office from obtaining or sharing specific medical information about the burned man, we continue our wishes for his recovery.

This weekend, a tenured source within the LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section officially briefed us regarding what is very much an "active investigation".

In specific response to your inquiries above, he stated:

The Lead Investigator has been able to eliminate construction or design deficiencies as being a cause of this fire.

While your (and our) questions remain, we are pleased at this time to confirm that neither design or construction imperfections are believed to have played a role in this blaze.

We hope this information proves helpful in removing undue concern, and encourage you to join with us in making your home as safe as possible from the danger of fire.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

Anonymous said...

what was the cause? was it electrical? were residents resposible? negligence?

Anonymous said...

why did 3 escape without taking the old man with them? why was the call made so late? looks like there would be too much smoke and they would have known instantly?

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 10:53,

The cause of this fire remains under active investigation. We can't speculate as to the cause until we have an official update from Investigators.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 10:54,

Our office does not yet have information that can corroborate your trio of assertions. The fire remains under active investigation. When Investigators working on this case provide us with information that can be shared publicly, we'll be pleased to post it here.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

Anonymous said...

Looks like either a simple accident or a foul play. That simple. As said that neither design or construction imperfections were responsible. When would you have the results for the community that is in shock?

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 1:51,

While we appreciate your perseverance, our (media and public relations) office has still not been provided with any update to support the causes you mention, which are by no means inclusive of all possibilities.

We have reached out to the small yet busy staff at the LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section who are actively handling this and many other investigations. As soon as they provide us with an official cause, we will be pleased to update this reply thread and the blog post above. Thanks for your patience and for joining us in well wishes for the burned man's recovery.


Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

Anonymous said...

What do the occupants do for living? Why do neighbors have an inkling of something weird?

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 3:06,

While we generally appreciate an inquisitive nature, your Fire Department does not routinely discuss or divulge publicly such personal information (e.g. employment) of the many persons we proudly assist each day.

We also have no way to speak on behalf of what neighbors may or may not be thinking.

We politely ask you for what may be difficult at this time (patience), and to kindly avoid speculation until such time that we can provide an official answer from the Investigators assigned.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

Anonymous said...

Dear PSO Humphrey,

I notice that it has been a little over a week since the last update and I noticed an LAFD visit to the site last week. Have there been any new updates on the cause of the blaze?

Many thanks to the LAFD for their rapid and overwhelming response. I am this sure prevented further injury and loss of additional adjacent residences.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 12:57,

As mentioned above, our office does not yet have information that can be shared publicly regarding this ongoing investigation.

Both the handling and Senior Investigator were personally apprised of the interest highlighted in the comments above, and have assured us they will offer whatever information they can *at the conclusion* of their investigation.

Please know that when such information comes to our media and public relations office, we will be pleased to post it here. Until then, we must respectfully request your patience.

We understand your interest, but have no timeline or further information to offer.


Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

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

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