When an early morning blaze ripped through a vacant structure, firefighters battled the fire on multiple fronts and successfully saved a four story apartment building and large church.
At 2:46AM on July 10, 2023 the Los Angeles City Fire Department responded to 2422 West 7th Street in Westlake. Firefighters arrived to find a two story (residential over commercial) building with smoke showing from the 2nd floor.
While the incident commander requested additional resources, firefighters initiated an offensive operation. They were met with forcible entry challenges including rolling steel doors and several large security doors, requiring multiple firefighters with rotary saws. As they made entry, the truck companies ascended aerial ladders to coordinate a vertical ventilation operation.
The structure was found to be vacant and undergoing demolition. With fire towards the back of the structure quickly growing in both size and intensity, and a lack of structural support due to demolition, conditions became too dangerous for a continued interior attack. At approximately 20 minutes into the firefight, the incident commander ordered all firefighters off the roof and out of the building, transitioning to a defensive operation.
Two large structures flanking the fire unit were at high risk of fire extension; a four story apartment building to the east and a multi-building church to the west,which wrapped around the rear of the fire building. While LAFD crews quickly deployed ladder pipe operations and large diameter hand lines to attack the fire from the exterior, additional units focused on defending each exposure while safely evacuating the adjoining apartment building.
Over 90 firefighters, under the leadership of Assistant Chief Melford Beard, battled intense flames for 94 minutes before successfully achieving a knockdown of the blaze, with no injuries reported. Their dedicated efforts greatly limited damage to the two exposed structures, with the apartment building sustaining only smoke and water damage to units facing the fire. The 11 affected residents were able to quickly secure nearby shelter, and did not require assistance from the American Red Cross. The church complex sustained fire damage to the section at the back of the fire building. Crews prevented the fire from moving through that building and putting the entire complex at risk.
As per protocol for an incident of this magnitude, LAFD Arson Investigators responded to the scene, and are conducting an ongoing investigation.