LAFD HazMat Investigation - June 16
HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INVESTIGATION: On Saturday, June 16, 2001 at 0430 Hours (4:30 AM PDT), fifteen Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, including an LAFD Hazardous Materials Task Force, eight LAFD Rescue Ambulances, two EMS District Captains, four Battalion Officer Command Teams as well as the LAFD Tractor Company and Command Post/Community Assistance vehicle, all under the direction of Assistant Chief J.S. Mottram responded to a Hazardous Materials Investigation near 11759 West Vanowen Street in the North Hollywood area. The first Company to arrive on scene met with residents of an apartment complex who mentioned an irritating odor emanating from an adjacent water filtration plant. A brisk investigation by Firefighters determined the source of the odor to be from a large volume of super-chlorinated water within a 15,000-gallon in-ground vault at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power North Hollywood Pump Station. With LAFD Hazardous Materials experts en route, Firefighters examined one adult who complained of subjective shortness of breath and chest discomfort. This person declined transportation. Concerned that other occupants of the apartment building might be irritated by the odor, Firefighters instituted the calm and orderly evacuation of 40 residents and established Incident Command. Though most evacuees made their own arrangements, assistance was sought from the Los Angeles Police Department and the American Red Cross in coordinating a formal evacuation perimeter and shelter. The possibility of vault access causing a large vapor cloud necessitated the evacuation of an additional 7 residential structures, with a total of 57 occupancies within a 1-block area. Victory Elementary School, located 0.6 miles southwest of the Pump Station was chosen as the Public Evacuation Shelter. Working closely with DWP officials, LAFD Hazmat crews determined that the danger of the solution within the vault had subsided, and that its removal by DWP contracted vacuum trucks could proceed by 10:40 AM. LAFD resources soon thereafter disbanded and residents were allowed to return to their homes. The incident remains under investigation by DWP and County Health Department officials.