Major Emergency Structure Fire Injures Firefighter

Monday, January 30, 2012 |

SOUTHEAST LOS ANGELES - Over 100 Los Angeles Firefighters battled a Major Emergency Structure Fire in a furniture warehouse, doing business as C&L Furniture. One firefighter sustained minor burns from the intense heat.

On January 30th, 2012, just after 8 AM, firefighters arrived in less than three minutes to 6245 South Manhattan Place. Fortunately, occupants had just exited the 100' x 60' metal clad commercial building that was rapidly filling with black smoke and fire.

It was quickly realized that a long battle was about to begin, and additional companies were immediately requested. As firefighters entered a loading dock alley on the west side of the structure, they encountered roaring flames. Rotary saws were utilized to force entry through gates and cut through the metal clad sides of the building, allowing firefighters to make access and attack the blaze with hose-lines. Due to the heavy fire load and the construction of the 42 year-old structure, it was deemed unsafe for firefighters to perform vertical ventilation on the roof, however they remained in an intensive, offensive attack.

A total of 136 firefighters, under the command of Battalion Chief Carlos Calvillo, confined the fire to the structure of origin and fully extinguished the flames in just 45 minutes. Teams of Los Angeles Firefighters stayed over seven hours assisting the business owner by combing through approximately 10,000 square-feet of goods to salvage.

When asked if there was anything unusual regarding this fire, Chief Calvillo stated, "It was unusual that firefighters encountered that much fire so early on. It expanded very quick and we are fortunate that all on scene made an such an aggressive attack." No nearby exposures were damaged.

One firefighter received minor burns from the intense heat and was treated by fellow firefighters, then transported to a local hospital in good condition.
The cause of this fire is, "undetermined, most probable accidental", likely due to workers performing normal maintenance on a spray booth. The dollar loss is estimated at $450,000 ($200,000 structure & $250,000 contents).

Dispatched Units: E66 RA866 E57 RA257 E21 E221 T21 SQ21 E266 T66 EM11 BC13 BC11 E46 RA57 RA257 DC2 E215 T15 E226 T26 E15 E64 EM9 BC18 T5 E205 E5 UR85 UR88 BC4 T3 E203 UR3 RA3 BC9 BC2 BC14 E229 T29 E61 E26 E220 T20 AR1 RA64 RA29 EM2 AR3 RT59 EA1 DT1 E85

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

NOAA Declares Los Angeles StormReady and TsunamiReady


The City of Los Angeles was recently recognized by NOAA’s National Weather Service as StormReady® and the largest city in the nation to become TsunamiReady™.

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The nationwide voluntary community preparedness programs use a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to prepare and warn citizens about severe weather, flooding and tsunami threats. To become StormReady and TsunamiReady, the City of Los Angeles met stringent criteria focusing on both internal and external communication, alert systems, reception and understanding of hazardous weather alerts, community outreach, and a comprehensive natural disaster plan.

Mark Jackson, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service forecast office in Oxnard, presented city officials with recognition letters and StormReady and TsunamiReady signs at a ceremony on January 27, 2012 during a Los Angeles City Council meeting.

"As a city that faces the potential wrath of Mother Nature on a number of fronts, Los Angeles is proud to have earned the National Weather Service's distinctive 'TsunamiReady' and 'StormReady' recognition," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "Our city is committed to the highest level of emergency preparedness so that our residents can be best equipped to deal with any sort of disaster."

"Like all areas along the West Coast, a tsunami could strike Los Angeles," said Jackson, who encouraged residents to develop their own emergency response plan, keep a disaster supply kit on hand and learn the tsunami warning signs.

The StormReady and TsunamiReady programs are a part of NOAA National Weather Service's working partnership with the International Association of Emergency Managers, the National Emergency Management Association and the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program. The StormReady and TsunamiReady designation must be renewed after three years.

For more information on how your family can be prepared for a severe storm or tsunami, visit:

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

31 Years Ago Today: Arson Takes the Life of LAFD's Tom Taylor

Saturday, January 28, 2012 |

It was a cold, wet and windy Tuesday night in late January 1981, as off-duty Los Angeles Firefighter Jim Barrett prepared for bed at home.

It had been a long and eventful week for Jim and most Americans. In seven days time, our nation had inaugurated a former California Governor as President, the Oakland Raiders reigned as Super Bowl champs; and 52 Americans were finally home from 444 days of captivity in Iran.

Jim turned off the television news amid word of an Indonesian ship capsized in the Java Sea, killing 580. While tragedy would come far closer before dawn, it was now time for sleep during a pulsing rainstorm. As his head hit the pillow, his thoughts drifted quickly to his Los Angeles Fire Department colleagues on-duty at Fire Station 60 in North Hollywood...

A few miles away in Van Nuys, there was little thought of sleep in the mind of Mario Catanio. The 42 year old barber had agreed to fulfill a wicked request by business owners Henry Martinez and Arlene Boyle to set fire to their financially ailing North Hollywood restaurant. With $2500 and a key to the restaurant burning a figurative hole in his pocket, the yet unknown arsonist would soon alter the course of Los Angeles Fire Department history.

For the men assigned to 24-hour duty on the 'B' Platoon at Fire Station 60, the rainy Tuesday proved active. Just four months to-the-day that LAFD lost Fireman Frank Hotchkin in an Elysian Park inferno, the North Hollywood crew found themselves adopting lessons learned while busily responding to emergencies in the community, including a midnight battle against flames in a two-story apartment building. As the clock raced into Wednesday morning, the crew from Station 60 ritually cleaned equipment and themselves from the grime of the apartment fire, not knowing that Mario Catanio was slinking in the shadows nearby with evil intent.

Awakened by the squeal of his home alarm clock at a ritually early hour on Wednesday, Firefighter Barrett began his commute to work in the pre-dawn darkness, later telling the Los Angeles Times:

"I was driving to the fire station when I heard it on the radio. They were saying something about a fire in North Hollywood - - something about a fireman getting killed and others being hurt. I thought to myself, God, I hope it's not anyone from the station. Then I saw all the cars in front of our place and I knew it was one of us."
Barrett ran into the firehouse at Tujunga Avenue and Chandler Boulevard. He saw the men's faces...

- - -

On Wednesday, January 28, 1981, at 3:33 AM, while most of the city slept, the alarm bell rang for a full structure fire assignment, sending Los Angeles Fire Department crews, including those from Fire Station 60 to Cugees Restaurant at 5300 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood.

Firefighters found heavy smoke with some fire showing in the interior of the restaurant. Because a backdraft explosion was a distinct possibility - and because the smoke had to be cleared in order to begin a meaningful fire attack, ventilation procedures were begun on the roof.

Four members of Truck 60 were cutting a hole near the center of the roof when, without warning, it began to sink beneath their feet. One firefighter described the sensation as similar to standing on the deck of a rapidly listing ship. As the roof sank, it fell at a steep angle, slowly and agonizingly pulling Apparatus Operator Thomas G. Taylor to his death.

Your LAFD has never forgotten that night, nor have we forgotten those who took Tom from us. We remain deeply indebted to members of our community who joined us in putting pen to paper to make sure Tom's murderer can no longer endanger firefighters or those they proudly serve. We are pleased to say Mr. Catanio remains safely behind bars at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison.

- - -

To learn more about our Brother Tom and other members of our Department who have paid the ultimate price in their service to the City, visit the LAFD Museum and Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Hollywood or click:

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

House Fire Claims Life of Woman in South Robertson, LA


SOUTH ROBERTON - Los Angeles Firefighters quickly extinguished a residential blaze on Saturday, January 28, 2012. However, sadly, an adult female was found deceased inside.

LAFD Finds Woman Dead in House FireFirefighters arrived within four minutes to 2637 Garth Avenue, to find fire showing from the rear of a one-story single-family-dwelling. Scores of firefighters forced entry with rotary saws, and performed an aggressive attack with hose-lines through the smoke charged 1,379 square-foot residence. Simultaneously, their colleagues performed strategic vertical ventilation with chainsaws on the roof to remove hot smoke and gasses.

Although a security front door provided forcible entry challenges, firefighters quickly made access through a rear sliding glass door. The burned body of an 38 year-old female was subsequently discovered in a rear bedroom of the residence. Without vital signs of life, she was determined deceased at the scene.

A total of 41 firefighters, under the command of Battalion Chief Al Ward, confined the fire to the residence of origin and fully extinguished the flames in just 22 minutes. No one else was injured.

In examining the fire's aftermath, smoke alarms were present, however their functional status are not immediately known. Some windows in the rear of the residence were equipped with security bars and the front door was a security door, however it is undetermined if either impaired egress. The 77-year old residence was not equipped with fire sprinklers.

A positive identification of the deceased woman, as well as the precise cause, time, and manner of her death will be determined by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

The Crisis Response Team arrived to provide immediate on-scene crisis intervention, emotional support and referrals to the family involved in this traumatic incident.

The cause of this 11:20 AM blaze in under active investigation by LAFD's Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section and monetary loss is still being tabulated.

Chief Ward in conjunction with LAFD Arson Investigators stated, "There have been 18 civilian fatalities in the last year and the lack of functional Smoke Alarms may have been a contributing factor in 50% of these incidents."

Fire Chief Brian Cummings provided this timely tweet to the citizens of Los Angeles earlier today, "Make sure that you have smoke detectors in your home. Test them regularly and change the batteries twice per year."

Dispatched Units: E58, RA58, E43, RA43, LF94, EM9, BC18, E61, LF92, E34, AR2, AR7, AR36, AR10, E57

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Beloved LAFD Employee Remembered on 7th Anniversary of Glendale Metrolink Collision

Thursday, January 26, 2012 |

This morning with sadness, the men and women of your Los Angeles Fire Department recall a tragic incident at our City border that injured more than two hundred rail passengers and killed eleven, including a deeply valued member of our LAFD family.

Today is the 7th anniversary of the January 26, 2005 Metrolink collision in Glendale that took the life of Julia Bennett, a Senior Clerk Typist for the LAFD's Bureau of Fire Prevention and Public Safety.

In the days, weeks and months since the massive and well-coordinated response to the collision and derailment - determined to have been a homicidal act, we have dearly missed Julia and her bright smile.

When visiting the Los Angeles Civic Center, we warmly welcome you to pause in Room 1705 at City Hall East, a meeting space not far from Julia's desk, which was proudly named in her honor as the Julia Bennett Conference Room. There, on a daily basis in "Julia's place", the men and women of LAFD's Fire Prevention Bureau gather to plan for the protection of Los Angeles under the watchful and caring spirit of a beloved friend, colleague and mentor.

Thank you Julia, for making an eternal impression on those who protect life and property in our great City. You are dearly missed today and every day.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Man Charged with North Hollywood Arson Spree to Stand Trial

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 |

Los Angeles Fire Department Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section. LAFD Photo by Harry Garvin. Click to view more...VAN NUYS - The Los Angeles Fire Department announced today that Kurt K. Billie, charged with setting a rash of fires in North Hollywood during July 2011, has been held over for trial, following a preliminary hearing this morning in Van Nuys Superior Court.

The 34 year-old, former Marine, with previous convictions of setting fire to bars and restaurants in Japan, remains in custody on $2 million bail. He has been held to answer on 21 charges, and due to prior arson convictions, he is eligible for sentencing under California's "Three Strikes" law for this most recent series of fires. If found guilty at trial, Billie may face up to life in prison.

Billie is alleged to have committed a series of fires in the North Hollywood area, with parked cars, motorhomes and garages in the Lankershim Boulevard corridor the target of arson that kept residents fearful and Investigators on around-the-clock surveillance.

"The fact that Billie has been held to answer on all original felony counts is a credit to the work of LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Arson Investigators, as well as the effort of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Arson Unit," according to David Liske, LAFD Senior Arson Investigator.

No firm date has been set for trial.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Smoke Alarms Help Save Family From Burning Apartment

Thursday, January 19, 2012 |

EAST HOLLYWOOD - A family of five abruptly awoke to the sound of their smoke alarms echoing through their apartment, alerting them of a fire. This life saving sound provided them the necessary time to call 9-1-1 and escape through a second-story window.

Kitchen Fire Endangers & Displaces Hollywood Family. Click to learn more about this Creative Commons licensed image...Just before 6:30 AM on January 19, 2012, Los Angeles Firefighters quickly arrived in a little over three minutes to find smoke showing from the second story of a two-story apartment building located at 811 North Mariposa Avenue. Firefighters performed a rapid Search and Rescue operation to find anyone inside the smoke filled residence, but they were already out...

Upon detection of the fire, the family immediately called 9-1-1, then got out and stayed out! They were unable to exit the front door due to smoke & flames, therefore they broke out a window from their second-story apartment and threw a mattress outside to the ground, in anticipation of having to jump. Neighbors assisted by placing aluminum "painters ladders" to the window allowing the mother, father and three daughters to safely exit the 46 year-old building.

A total of 39 firefighters, under the command of Battalion Chief A. Ward, worked hard and fast to extinguish the flames in just 13 minutes. The fire was confined to the unit of origin, before it had a chance to spread to any of the dozen attached units. The cause of the fire was electrical and appears to be accidental in nature. The dollar loss is still being tabulated, and the American Red Cross assisted with the displaced family.

Every year in the United States, about 3,500 people die in home fires. Most of these deaths occurred in homes that didn’t have a working smoke alarm.

Install. Inspect. Protect. Smoke Alarms Save Lives. Click to learn more...Fortunately, due to early detection from functional smoke alarms, no one was seriously injured or killed in this morning's incident.

Your Los Angeles Fire Department asks, "If a fire breaks out in your home while you are asleep, how will you know?"

Smoke and heat rapidly build, making every second count. A smoke alarm is constantly on alert, scanning the air for fire and smoke 24/7. Remember, Smoke Alarms not only protect your family but can help save the lives of firefighters who would otherwise have to risk their lives by searching a burning home for residents.

Lastly, don't forget to prepare and practice your fire escape plan twice a year with everyone in your household, including children and people with disabilities.
Dispatched Units: E52 RA52 E6 RA6 E235 T35 E82 E227 T27 EM11 BC11 BC18 E29

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Booming Fire Tears Through Offices at Wilmington Refinery

Monday, January 16, 2012 |

WILMINGTON - Flames engulfed an administrative office building early this morning as Firefighters battled a massive fire at the ConocoPhillips Refinery.

The call was made at 4:22 am on January 16, 2012 by a passerby who noticed fire in a second-floor window of a two-story, administrative building at 1660 West Anaheim Street in Wilmington. First on-scene resources confirmed a large portion of the second floor fully-involved in flames.

A quick and aggressive interior fire-attack was made on the 75' x 300' structure of masonry construction, as companies on the Spanish tile roof assisted by cutting ventilation holes.

It was only 30 minutes into the incident, however, that Firefighters experienced a partial roof collapse of the nearly 100 year-old structure and the decision was made by the Incident Commander to pull all Firefighters off and out of the structure.

By that time, over 160 Firefighters had been called to the scene of this "Major Emergency Structure Fire".

Firefighters continued their diligent work hoping to prevent this blaze from extending to any of the adjacent structures on the property. Large hosestreams were targeted from the exterior on the now well-entrenched flames. They were joined by the "fire brigade" of ConocoPhillips to assist with any technical expertise that may have aided in the firefight.

However, at no time was the refinery itself or any of its petroleum products ever in jeopardy. Business at the entire ConocoPhillips Refinery will resume following the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

Thankfully, no injuries were reported, despite a firefight that lasted 3 hours and 48 minutes. There were no occupants in the building at the time of the fire.

Dollar-loss estimates are not yet available and the exact cause of the blaze is under active investigation by the LAFD's Arson/Counter Terrorism Section.
Dispatched Units: E85 T85 E285 RA85 E38 RA38 E36 E248 T48 EM6 BC6 BC13 E64 E49 E48 E264 T64 E266 T66 DC2 SQ21 EM11 BC11 BC1 T5 E205 E5 UR88 BC4 E33 T33 E233 E15 E10 E295 T95 E221 T21 AR1 EA1 BC18 BC5 RA36 RA101 RA112 EM9 RA79 T26 E226 E3 T11 E211 E61 E210 T10 E37 E2 RT40 RA85 E226 T26 E248 T48 E202 T2 E34 BC11 E215 T15 E61 E101 E292 T92 E229 T29 SU1 RA38 AR33 AR53
Submitted by Matt Spence, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Hockey Team Honored to Support Wounded Warrior Project

Sunday, January 15, 2012 |

On Thursday, January 12, 2012 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the LAFD Hockey Club had the honor of facing the Patriots Hockey Team in a match to benefit the Wounder Warrior Project.

Our friends at Fox News tell the story in this video:

A non-profit organization comprised of over 40 Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters, the LAFD Hockey Club competes in a Police/Fire league as well as tournaments and charity games that support worthy causes.

Comprised entirely of active duty, reserve, retired and military veterans, the Patriots Hockey Team was founded as a way for members of our Armed Forces to enjoy the game while giving back to the military community.

The LAFD Hockey Club and Patriots Hockey Team were proud to honor and empower wounded warriors through their charitable competition. To learn more about the true winner of their faceoff, visit:

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD's New Command Staff

Thursday, January 12, 2012 |

LAFD SealFire Chief Brian Cummings has thanked the current members of the Command Staff for their years of service to the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), and their contribution to the community. Chief Cummings stated, "Each of them has provided their unique perspective and energy to leading the LAFD. I am confident that their demonstrated professionalism and dedication will be just as evident in their new roles and assignments."

In March of 2011, the voters approved an amendment to the City Charter to exempt all Deputy Chiefs from civil service provisions. This change was intended to give the Fire Chief the ability to select the members of the Command Staff. To select Assistant General Managers (Deputy Chief level), General Managers (Fire Chief) must comply with the provisions contained in the Mayor’s Executive Directive No. 6. The LAFD has also entered into a Letter of Agreement with the Chief Officers’ Association that speaks to the selection process to be utilized for Deputy Chiefs.

In compliance with both documents, on October 27, 2011 a job bulletin was posted for Fire Deputy Chief. A three-part selection process was used: Qualified members submitted their resume for review; four individuals, two each from the Personnel Department and the Fire Department reviewed the resumes and the top candidates moved on to the interview portion of the process. The four-person interview panel consisted of a Fire Commissioner, a Los Angeles Area Fire Chief, a retired Fire Chief and a member of the Fire Department. The panel rated the candidates, and Chief Cummings interviewed the resulting top four individuals.

The following selections were made and will become effective February 12, 2012:

Assistant Chief David Yamahata to Chief Deputy, Emergency Operations

Assistant Chief Daren Palacios to Chief Deputy, Administrative Operations

Assistant Chief Roxanne Bercik to Deputy Chief, Training and Support Bureau

Assistant Chief Mark Stormes to Deputy Chief, Fire Marshal

"I look forward to working with them as members of my Command Staff in accomplishing the Mission and achieving the Vision of the Los Angeles Fire Department." -Brian Cummings

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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


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

Pack-Rat Conditions Fuel Blaze in North Hollywood Home

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 |

NORTH HOLLYWOOD - A woman sustained minor injury after a stove fire she thought controlled, raced through her densely packed suburban San Fernando Valley home Wednesday morning.

Alerted by multiple 9-1-1 calls from passing motorists at 7:44 AM on January 11, 2012, Los Angeles Firefighters arrived quickly at 12425 Burton Street in North Hollywood, where they found a one-story 1,189 square-foot home surrounded by dense vegetation to be well involved with fire.

On arrival, firefighters were met by the 84 year-old homeowner, who stated she had been cooking when debris in the kitchen was ignited from the stovetop. After believing she had fully extinguished the burning item, the woman exited the front door of her home for an unspecified purpose and time period.

As the woman returned to her residence, she was confronted near the front door by immense heat that singed her hair and caused her to sustain first degree facial burns. She immediately retreated from the home.

Teams of firefighters worked in unison within the house and on the roof above in battling fire that roared through the building, fueled by "pack rat" storage of combustible belongings throughout the 59 year-old non-fire sprinklered residence. It took 41 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel just twenty-one minutes to extinguish the blaze.

LAFD Firefighter/Paramedics treated and comforted the woman at the scene before transporting her in fair condition by ambulance to Kaiser Panorama City Medical Center.

No other injuries were reported.

Monetary loss from the fire is still being tabulated. The cause of the early morning blaze is categorized as accidental, and attributed to combustible debris - likely a newspaper - ignited by the stove and incompletely extinguished by the woman.
Dispatched Units: E289 E89 T89 RA889 RA89 E7 E77 E298 T98 EM14 BC12 BC14 E60 RA7 AR2
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Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Firefighters Prevent Flames From Destroying South L.A. Hardware Store

Saturday, January 07, 2012 |

SOUTH LOS ANGELES - An outside fire involving flammable construction materials quickly spread inside a South Los Angeles hardware business on Saturday night, but an hour-plus effort by Los Angeles Firefighters spared 95% of the firm's inside inventory from damage.
LAFD Battles Blaze in South LA Hardware Store
Reported as a rubbish fire to the rear of 205 West Florence Avenue at 9:24 PM on January 7, 2012, the flames had spread to threaten a one-story row of businesses at 155 West Florence Avenue as the first Los Angeles Fire Department crew arrived.

With additional firefighters on the way, LAFD personnel tenaciously attacked the flames, which took stubborn hold in the attic of a heavily remodeled 150' x 200' one-story building that housed a hardware store.

Decades of remodeling hampered the battle, as firefighters encountered highly compartmentalized spaces, a double roof and multiple types of construction - that led a portion of the building to collapse.

LAFD Battles Blaze in South LA Hardware StoreDespite these challenges, firefighters held the flames to the attic and outside property, sparing valuable inventory. It took the combined effort of 107 LAFD personnel just 75 minutes to extinguish the fire.

No injuries were reported.

Fire loss to Jalisco Hardware was limited to $275,000 ($200,000 structure and $75,000 contents). The cause of the after-business-hours fire remains under active investigation.

Dispatched Units: E33 E233 T33 E264 T64 RA833 RA33 E57 E46 SQ21 EM11 BC13 BC11 E9 E15 E266 T66 DC2 E14 E215 T15 EM9 BC4 T3 E203 E5 RA5 UR88 BC1 RA803 UR3 AR1 RT59 E21 E226 T26 EA1

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Fire on Armenian 'Little Christmas' Displaces Family, Injures Firefighter


SHERMAN OAKS - An "Armenian Christmas" gathering resulted in tragedy for one family in the San Fernando Valley, as they witnessed their Christmas Tree and almost their entire home, go up in flames. One Firefighter was injured.

January 6, 2012 marked Christmas Day for millions of Orthodox Christians the world-over, including our Armenian neighbors - some of which still follow the ancient Julian Calendar and widely consider that date (also referred to as "Little Christmas"), the original Christmas Day.

Tonight, while in the midst of a their familial, religious celebration, one member of an Armenian Family ran into their living room, frightened by the sound of smoke alarms. In that instant, it was already too late. Their massive 20 foot, fully-decorated Christmas Tree was now fully-engulfed in flames. An attempt was made by the homeowner to extinguish the fire with a quickly-drawn garden hose, but that proved to be ineffective. Each family-member then witnessed this horror as they rushed from the home to safety.

At 7:09 pm, the Los Angeles Fire Department was summoned to a reported "Structure Fire" at 5049 North Matilija Avenue to this normally peaceful neighborhood on what should have been a "silent night." First arriving resources encountered "smoke showing" from a 5,500 square-foot, two-story residence. Upon entry into the home, Firefighters made their way to the second floor with hoselines, as the tree had burned completely and already extended up the foyer. The fire on the second floor was quickly extinguished, but not before it found its way up into the large attic space.

The "compartmentalized attic" proved to be challenging, as Firefighters had to chase this pesky fire into small areas of the attic by cutting through several plywood walls. Full-extinguishment was ultimately achieved in one hour and two minutes but not before one Firefighter was treated and transported to a local hospital, having sustained minor injuries during firefighting operations.

Battalion Chief Pete Benesch ran a very well-orchestrated fire and the tireless efforts by all 60 on-scene personnel, helped prevent further damage to this beautiful home, built just three years ago. Despite the mighty efforts by your LAFD, this family had to spend their Christmas Night elsewhere, as a result of the fire-related damage.

Dollar-loss estimates were not yet available and the exact cause of the blaze that ignited the tree, will be a subject of the investigation.

Please let the very unfortunate losses of this family on their Christmas Night, serve as a reminder to all... if you have not yet removed your Christmas Tree from your home, please do so quickly and safely.

And if you do celebrate Christmas today, the LAFD wishes you and your family a very Blessed Christmas Day.

Dispatched Units:
E102 E39 T39 E239 RA39 RA78 EM14 BC14 E60 E88 DC3 E278 T78 SQ21
BC10 RA88 RA102 E89 E227 T27 SQ21 BC12 RA73 EM15 RA102 T60 E260

Submitted by Matt Spence, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Chief Speaks Proudly of 2011 Statistics at Public Safety Press Conference

Thursday, January 05, 2012 |

Los Angeles Fire Chief Brian CummingsLOS ANGELES - At a widely attended press conference on Thursday morning, January 5, 2012, Los Angeles Fire Chief Brian L. Cummings and other public safety leaders joined Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to share year-end statistics and a perspective of their agency operations in the previous twelve months.

Following the Mayor and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, Chief Cummings offered the following remarks:

"I am here to share with you the Los Angeles Fire Department’s fire and life safety response statistics... The information I will provide is an end-of-the-year statistical report for 2011 from January 1st to December 31st:

  • The Los Angeles Fire Department has continued to see a rise in emergency responses, both pertaining to Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
  • The total number of incidents or individual calls for service in 2011, was 379,437; an increase of 1.7%.
  • 83.5% or 316,866 of those calls were for Emergency Medical Service.
  • There were 826,924 individual fire department company responses in 2011; up by 3.9%.
  • 661,765 of those responses were for Emergency Medical Service. That is a 4.1% increase.
  • The Los Angeles Fire Department transported 195,827 patients to area hospitals. A year-to-year increase of 2.1%.
  • We responded to 8099 structure fires in 2011 and the rapid actions of our firefighters saved over a billion dollars in property. That is a decrease of 12 structure fires from 2010.
  • We have seen a 4.9% decrease in fire related civilian injuries with just 97 fire related injuries last year.
  • Tragically, 18 civilian lost their lives in fire last year but this is the lowest fire fatality rate for any large city.
  • Unfortunately, as you all may remember, we lost one member of the LAFD, Firefighter Glenn Allen who died in a line of duty death in 2011.
Now I would like to put these numbers in perspective...

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which compiles fire department statistics on a national level, reported that in 2010:

In regard to the number of fires per thousand, civilian deaths per million, civilian injuries per million and property loss per capita, the Los Angeles Fire Department averaged 48% below the National levels.

I am proud to attribute this to the tireless efforts by the men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

In looking back over the year [2011], the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to several major newsworthy incidents.

There was the 405 Freeway closure in July, where the Los Angeles Fire Department worked closely with its public safety partners in preparation and flawless execution of the closure of this major thoroughfare, insuring adequate medical and fire protection.

On September 5, 2011 the Los Angeles Fire Department simultaneously fought two major brush fires threatening the Sun Valley and Mandeville Canyon areas. Due to the aggressive firefighting efforts, these fires were contained to 50 total acres with no loss of life, structures or property.

On the afternoon of October 31st, the men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s quick work saved one of Hollywood’s most historic structures, the Magic Castle, known throughout the world as the headquarters for Magicians everywhere.

On December 1st, 2011 the City of Los Angeles faced one of the worst wind storms in recent history. The LAFD had 2,447 incidents in one 24 hour period. This is a one-hundred-percent increase in call load for a single day.

Along with the 149 fire companies and 130 ambulances which respond daily to render aid, the LAFD prides itself in its specialized units. The Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section investigated 1,509 fires including their vital role in the identification and capture of the serial arson suspect in the New Years arson fires; our Fire Prevention Bureau Brush Inspectors handled 179,451 brush inspections; and our Marine Division responded to 441 calls in 2011.

These are just a few of the specialized units that your Fire Department has available to respond in your time of need.

Today, I proudly stand before you with the leaders of Public Safety Agencies that respond to your needs 24 hours a day, without fail. Together, we are capable of handling any problem or emergency you may face. Even during these very tough and trying economic times, we remain committed to your needs and remain steadfast in providing the highest level of professional and compassionate service at all times."

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Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Battles Huge Hollywood Structure Fire

Monday, January 02, 2012 |

HOLLYWOOD - Nearly 150 Los Angeles Firefighters battled a massive blaze at a large two-story vacant church, just before 6:00 PM January 1st, 2012.

Major Emergency Hollywood Structure FireFirefighters arrived at 1717 North Gramercy Place to find heavy fire showing from the second story of a pre-1933 church, with adjacent classrooms attached. Due to the deep set, mid-block location of the structure, the roof was difficult to access with Aerial Ladder Trucks. Therefore, firefighters utilized multiple 35' ground ladders.

Strategically cutting three strips off the rooftop for ventilation helped limit horizontal fire spread, as firefighters under the command of Battalion Chief J. Castro used hand-lines to tackle flames within the 100' x 50' structure.

Major Emergency Hollywood Structure Fire
A very aggressive fire attack ensued for one hour. Some firefighters went through three air bottles battling the inferno during their offensive and exhaustive attack. Flames damaged the basement, first floor, second floor and attic. No injuries were reported.

Loss from the fire is still being tabulated, while the cause of the blaze remains under active investigation.

Dispatched Units: E82 RA82 E227 E27 T27 RA827 E52 E235 T35 EM11 BC5 BC18 E29 E261 T61 DC3 E41 SQ21 BC11 CP2 E26 E229 T29 EM2 UR27 T3 E203 RA3 RA803 E89 UR88 BC14 RA27 E11 E260 T60 E210 T10 E76 RA52 RA35 EM14 EM9 AR27 EA1 RT59 T20 E220 T20 E220 AR7 SU1 E10 T15 E215 E27

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Evening Update Regarding LA Arson Fires


At the Joint Arson Task Force News Conference, the following distinguished speakers were present...

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
LA County Board of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky
West Hollywood Mayor John Duran
LA City Council Member Tom LaBonge
LAFD Fire Chief Brian Cummings
LACoFD Fire Chief Daryl Osby
LA County Sheriff Lee Baca
Reserve Deputy Sheriff Shervin Lalezary
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck
ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Karl Anglin

Los Angeles Fire Department, Fire Chief Brian L. Cumming's thoughts...

First and foremost I would like to thank the men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department and also the members of our allied Command who worked tirelessly alongside us. But most importantly I would like to thank the people of Los Angeles for giving us the team, tools and training to get the job done.

Your firefighters minimized the impact that these horrendous acts had on our community through their coordinated efforts at the scene of 52 separate fires over a four day period. The valiant efforts of your firefighters limited the loss to less than 3 million dollars and ultimately prevented the loss of a single life.

From the very first fire on December 30th when we first determined what we were facing, the Los Angeles Fire Department along with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Fire and Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office and Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began working around the clock to apprehend this arsonist and insure the safety of our community. We are grateful for the trust and support of the public.

Arson has been and will continue to be a concern to the members of America’s Fire Service. We must remain vigilant against this scourge that causes 1.1 billion dollars damage, and injures 7,825 firefighters and civilians in the United States each year.

I wish now to affirm our full support to those in the justice system, who we trust will move this case forward quickly and effectively so that justice may be served.

Law enforcement officers and firefighters will remain vigilant in order ensure the safety of our community. Investigators will continue to work around the clock looking at clues and continue to work on this investigation.

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Noon Update Regarding LA Arson Fires


LOS ANGELES - During the early morning hours of Thursday, December 29, 2011, two persons were arrested in the Hollywood area in unrelated arson incidents where four fires and one attempted fire occurred. The arsons involved trash can fires and a vehicle fire that extended to an apartment building. Samuel Arrington 22 years old was charged with arson of an inhabited dwelling ($75,000 bail) and Alejandro Pineda 55 years old was charged with arson of property ($50,000 bail).

During the early morning hours of Friday, December 30, 2011, a series of 17 car/structure fires developed; five in West Hollywood and 12 in Hollywood. Following this series of fires a Joint Arson Task Force comprised of the Los Angeles City Fire Department, Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the County of Los Angeles Fire Department, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was assembled.

In the early evening hours of Friday, December 30, 2011, and through the early morning hours of Saturday, December 31, 2011, 16 additional vehicle/structure fires occurred; four in Hollywood, 11 in North Hollywood, and one in Sunland. An additional car fire occurred in the City of Burbank.

On Saturday evening, December 31, 2011, 8 additional car/structure fires occurred; 6 in Hollywood and two in West Hollywood.

During the early morning hours of January 2, 2012, 11 additional car/structure fires occurred; two in West Hollywood, two in Hollywood, and seven in North Hollywood.

This string of fires has resulted in one fire fighter and one citizen injury; there have been no fatalities to date.

The Task Force has worked together around the clock and is currently reviewing more than 100 clues, mapping out the sequence of the fires that occurred, interviewing hundreds of witnesses, and canvassing the 53 fire scenes as part of this active investigation. Hundreds of investigators and uniform personnel from throughout the City and County of Los Angeles have been deployed to assist. Additionally, multiple search warrants have been authored and served as part of this investigation.

To date these fires have caused in excess of 2 million dollars of damage to vehicles and structures.

On Monday, January 2, 2012, shortly after 3:00 a.m., a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy assigned to West Hollywood Station stopped the driver of a van near Sunset Blvd. and Fairfax Ave in the City of Los Angeles. The van resembled a description provided by the Arson Task Force as possibly being related to the recent fires and the driver resembled the person of interest seen in a videotape released by the multi-agency Arson Task Force. The driver was detained and investigators with the Arson Task Force were notified. Subsequent to interviewing this individual, he was placed under arrest.

Evening Press Conference: At 6:15 p.m. there will be a at Los Angeles City Fire Station 4: 450 East Temple Avenue, Los Angeles.

Speakers: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, City of West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, LA City Council Member Tom LaBonge, LA City Fire Chief Brian Cummings, LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, Sheriff Lee Baca, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Karl Anglin, and Task Force Unified Commanders, will discuss the arrest of a suspect in the LA Arson Fires.

For additional information contact the Los Angeles Arson Watch Taskforce Joint Information Center at (213) 484-4873

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Fight Continues Against Los Angeles Arson Fires

Sunday, January 01, 2012 |

LOS ANGELES - As of 8:00 AM on January 1st, 2012, 39 fires of concern have broke out in the Los Angeles area over the last three days. The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) responded to over 3300 calls in the past 72 hours and had a 17% increase in emergencies. This is in addition to the previously mentioned arson fires on December 29th, 2011, where two individuals were arrested.

LAFD Arson Fires in San Fernando Valley
At 12:23 AM, on the morning of Friday, December 30th, a series of incendiary fires began in Hollywood. By daybreak, a total of 12 fires had been confirmed in the Hollywood area, and four fires in the city of West Hollywood. These 16 intentionally set fires were located in carports under apartment buildings or near single family dwellings in Hollywood. Firefighters worked tirelessly through a long and busy night extinguishing the flames. Fortunately, no civilians were injured. However, one firefighter sustained a non-life-threatening injury, and was transported to a local hospital in Fair condition. He was later released.

A Joint Task Force was formed between the Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, LA County Sheriff's, and members of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to investigate these fires and to apprehend the suspect or suspects responsible for these heinous acts.

The LAFD handled 16 fires by the morning of December 31st that met our criteria of concern. These fires predominantly involved vehicles, many in carports or in close proximity of a structure. Most of these fires were located in the North Hollywood area and the Fairfax District.

These were very dangerous fires that pose a serious concern to the community. Fortunately, no civilians were injured.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department initially reported one fire meeting the criteria in the Lennox area, however after a thorough investigation of the scene, it was determined that this fire was not related to these series of fires.

On New Year's morning the Los Angeles Fire Department reported five incidents related to this series of fires. One incident involved a vehicle fire in a carport that extended into the structure. Another fire was confined to the vehicle and was controlled prior to extending into the structure. The three additional incidents were reported as "Fire Outs," meaning that the fire was out prior to Fire Department arrival.

Los Angeles County Fire Department reported two incidents in the city of West Hollywood. One of the two incidents involved several vehicles in a carport and through joint firefighting efforts between the County and City firefighters was confined to the autos and the carport.

Therefore, as of January 1st, the city of Los Angeles an the city of West Hollywood have experienced a total of 39 incidents that meet the criteria in this series of incendiary fires.
LAFD Arson Fires in San Fernando ValleyLAFD Arson Investigators are working around the clock and are currently reviewing evidence, mapping out the sequence of the fires that occurred, interviewing witnesses, and canvassing the fire scenes as part of this active investigation. Our friends in law enforcement are in full force with officers on ground and in the air. Hundreds of clues are being followed up on a continual basis and all evidence is being examined to put the person or persons responsible in jail.

A combination of rewards in the sum of $60,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons responsible for these dangerous fires. Auto fires burn hot and fast and contain fuels, plastic, and combustible gases that can rapidly spread and flash over.
We are asking the public to assist. If you see a crime in progress, do not engage, immediately dial 9-1-1. Anyone with information that may assist in these active investigations is asked to call (800) 222- TIPS (8477).

Your Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers would like to thank the community and media for their continual support. We are urging all to remain vigilant.

Precautionary measures can be taken by:
  • Leaving on porch lights and the lights around your carports.
  • Insure your vehicles are locked.
  • Insure your smoke alarms work.
  • Have a family emergency plan and discuss it with your family.
  • Get to know your neighbors.
  • Report any suspicious activity and finally...,
“If you see something, say something”.

We want citizens be assured that there is no lack of services in the community. Your firefighters will continue to put their lives on the line and provide the best level of service that is expected and deserved on every fire and medical incident. LAFD is honored to serve the public in the second largest city in the country. We hope you view your neighborhood fire stations as a public safety hub for the community and the LAFD as a premier all risk fire department in the world that will be by your side within five minutes of an emergency.

UPDATE: As of 5AM on 01/02/12, a total of 52 fires of concern have broke out in the Los Angeles area over the last four days from 12/30/11 to 01/02/12.

Media can contact the Joint Information Center at (213) 484-4873 for updated information.

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department