A fire in a Santa Monica Boulevard retail boutique killed a pet dog and left a woman fighting for her life, after she was unable to escape makeshift living space at the rear of the business Wednesday morning.
Firefighters arrived quickly to find fire in the central portion and heavy smoke from the attic of a one-story row of commercial businesses. With reports of a person trapped within the 5,700 square-foot building, firefighters forced entry into the half-dozen smoke charged establishments, extending hoselines to battle flames that had spread from two involved businesses into the common attic that ran half a city block.
Additional teams of firefighters extended aerial and ground ladders to the roof of the 1922-era unreinforced masonry building to commence strategic vertical ventilation. Their prompt and skillful effort at strip ventilation allowed the timely release of thick smoke and superheated gases at a key location, allowing LAFD colleagues to search for and ultimately rescue a pulseless and non-breathing woman from an otherwise untenable portion of the structure.
The woman - whose age and identity were undetermined - was provided basic and advanced life support by Los Angeles Fire Department personnel during her ambulance transport to nearby Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, where she arrived in grave condition.
It took 84 Los Angeles Firefighters under the command of Battalion Chief Timothy Kelly, just 40 minutes to fully extinguish the flames. The bulk of direct fire damage was confined to the unnamed retail boutique, as well as a psychic business to the west. During fire overhaul within the boutique, responders discovered a pet dog that had succumbed to the flames. No other injuries were reported.
The building was not equipped with fire sprinklers, and there was no evidence of functional smoke alarms. Inspectors from the City's Department of Building & Safety were requested to examine the building's structural fitness, as well as to determine if the site's use as a living space was legally permissable.
Monetary loss from the fire is still being tabulated, while the cause of the greater alarm blaze remains under active investigation.
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