Christmas Tree Sparks Van Nuys Apartment Fire

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A woman escaped with only minor injury, and her toddler son was unharmed, when fire - involving a Christmas tree - swept through their San Fernando Valley apartment Sunday afternoon.

The Los Angeles Fire Department received the first of several 9-1-1 calls at 3:48 PM on January 18, 2015 reporting fire in the Haskell Village Apartments at 6825 Haskell Avenue in Van Nuys. Firefighters arrived quickly to discover flames showing from the 3rd floor balcony of a three story 21,540 square-foot building of two occupied floors over parking
Thirty-seven firefighters under the command of Battalion Chief Dean Zipperman skilfully confined flames to the one apartment, extinguishing the blaze in just 16 minutes. During their comprehensive search of the smoke charged premises, firefighters discovered and rescued a semi-conscious pet cat from the burning apartment. LAFD personnel provided comfort and reassurance to the animal while administering oxygen. The cat soon fully awakened without apparent distress, and was placed in the care of neighbors.  
LAFD Paramedics briefly treated the injured woman for heat and smoke exposure, before transporting her and her son to a nearby hospital for further evaluation. Neither had sustained burn injury. 
Functional smoke alarms were found inside the burning apartment, but their role in alerting the woman could not be immediately determined. The building-wide fire alarm system had been manually activated prior to the LAFD's arrival. The 30 year-old building did not feature optional fire sprinklers
Firefighter efforts proved successful in limiting fire damage to $25,000 ($15,000 structure & $10,000 contents) within the one unit, sparing the building's 27 other apartments from harm.
The cause of the fire was determined to be electrical, involving the family's still-decorated Christmas tree, which fervidly fueled the blaze.
The fire comes more than three weeks after Christmas, and despite a month long Citywide campaign by the Fire Department and City's Bureau of Sanitation to have residents remove the hazardous trees from their homes.
The campaign took a greater sense of urgency following a January 6 fire in North Hollywood that destroyed a residence and hospitalized three Los Angeles Firefighters
Dispatched Units: T90 E290 RA90 RA890 E239 E39 T39 EM14 BC10 E81 RA88 AR2 RA39
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