Los Angeles Fire Tallies $3.95M in Damages

On Saturday, September 8, 2007 at 6:04 PM, 24 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 6 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 1 Arson Unit, 1 Rehab Unit, 1 Hazardous Materials Team, 1 Emergency Air Unit, 1 Emergency Lighting Unit, the LAFD Tractor Unit, 2 EMS Battalion Captains, 7 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 157 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel, joined by the Los Angeles Police Department, City Departments of Transportation, Building & Safety and Housing, all under the direction of Assistant Chief Alfred Hernandez, responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire at 246 West 57th Street in South Los Angeles.

Firefighters responding to a call from a passerby arrived quickly to discover thick smoke and heavy fire showing from a 100' x 50' two-story building of apartments over commercial businesses.

As intense flames began to consume the structure and actively threaten a trio of buildings nearby, Firefighters brought heavy streams to bear on what soon became a defensive operation to protect a two story residential fourplex to the west, a single story duplex to the east - and a residential fourplex again further east.

A relentless attack on fire within the brick building of fire origin allowed Firefighters to confine the flames to a carpet warehouse and tile store at one end of the non-fire sprinklered structure, sparing a meat market and convenience store and the two apartments above.

Residents of the threatened homes nearby were able to self-evacuate without injury as teams of Firefighters battled the swift moving blaze, which took hold of and severely damaged the adjacent duplex and caused lesser damage to the pair of four-occupancy structures.

As portions of the heavily involved buildings began to fail, Firefighters moved quickly to limit fire spread, extinguishing the flames in just 54 minutes.

Though Firefighters treated the adult male owner of the carpet and tile business for a 2nd degree burn to his left forearm, the man declined transportation.

There were no other civilian or Firefighter injuries.

Firefighters went to great lengths to aid 35 members of seven families severely impacted by the blaze, spending dozens of man-hours, and working closely with Building & Safety officials and the Housing Department, to assure many of their homes tenable.

The American Red Cross provided food and clothing assistance to three families, but determined no need for temporary housing, as those involved either safely returned to their homes or sought accommodations with friends and family.

A pair of LAFD Tractors were summoned to demolish the precarious structures and to move hundreds of rolls of carpet involved in the blaze, their overhaul efforts continuing past dawn the following day.

Overall fire loss is estimated at $3.95 million, to include the destruction of the carpet and tile firm and its considerable inventory, as well as the structural and contents loss ($475,000) of the residential duplex.

Inadequate clearance between stored combustibles and fluorescent ceiling lights was determined to be the cause of the fire.