An elderly couple died and two persons were injured, including a firefighter, after flames erupted Saturday evening in a remote canyon home in the Verdugo Mountains of the northeast San Fernando Valley.
The Los Angeles Fire Department received the first of several calls - initially reporting a brush fire, at 8:04 PM on July 30, 2016. Firefighters responded quickly to 9145 La Tuna Canyon Road, where they instead found a cluster of several hillside homes inside a large gated residential compound, with one home well involved with fire.
With word that two people were trapped inside the burning one story hacienda style home, teams of firefighters forced open an entry gate at the end of a 500' long narrow driveway to hand-carry ground ladders, tools and extend hoselines uphill at a running clip, as a relentless fire attack and rescue effort ensued.
With heavy fire showing from three windows and flames in the attic, firefighters scaled ladders to open the mission tile roof with a chainsaw and hand tools, allowing the vertical ventilation of intense heat and deadly smoke. Their efforts directly supported the combined fire attack and rescue effort of their colleagues below, who found and rescued a man and woman from advancing flames.
Determining the elder couple to be pulseless and non-breathing, firefighters immediately began CPR on the pair outside the home, with resuscitation continued by teams of LAFD Firefighter/Paramedics working side-by-side at the scene and during light-and-siren ambulance transport to separate hospitals. In each ambulance, the veteran paramedic teams used advanced life support measures to successfully restore the pulse, breathing and blood presure of their patients, whose condition was upgraded from grave to critical at the time of hospital arrival.
With the fire nearly extinguished and the search for victims within the smoke charged home complete, firefighters focused on the needs of bystanders, including a woman at the scene who suffered significant smoke exposure and burned fingers during multiple attempts to enter the burning home prior to the fire department's arrival. Convinced by LAFD responders of the need for care, she was taken to an area hospital by ambulance, where the effects of smoke exposure downgraded her condition from fair to serious at the time of hospital arrival.
Sixty-three firefighters under the command of Assistant Chief Gregory Reynar confined the fire to structure of origin, extinguishing the flames in just 38 minutes.
As weary firefighters completed their tasks, one male crew member from a North Hollywood station was examined for extreme exertion. Pursuant of protocol, he was taken to an area hospital for examination by a physician. He was later released and expected to return to full duty the following work day.
As property salvage and investigation efforts commenced, volunteers from the Los Angeles Mayor's Crisis Response Team joined firefighters in providing family, friends and neighbors with emotional support and recovery resources.
Due to severe fire damage, the presence of smoke alarms and their functional status at the time of the blaze could not be immediately determined. There were no obvious factors to impede the household occupants, and it was not immediately known if the trapped seniors were mobility impaired. The building was not equipped with residential fire sprinklers.
Despite the Herculean effort of responders and hospital staff, the elderly man and woman later died while in hospital care. Their positive identification, as well as the specific cause, time and manner of their death will be determined by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. The status of the other hopitalized woman is unknown at this hour.
Monetary loss from the blaze is still being tabulated. The cause of the fire remains the focus of an active LAFD investigation.
Dispatched Units: E89 T89 E289 E298 T98 E475 RA98 E274 T74 T60 E260 E489 E90 H0B H0D EM17 BC12 BC14 T90 E290 H1 H2 RA90 H5 E24 CM42 BC10 E77 EM15 BP74 RA77 RA74 EM17 RA89 AR2 PH1 RA86 EM17 EM11 SU2 AR11 EA1 RA98
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