LAFD Ends Recovery Operations at Mt. Washington House Fire

Thursday, October 27, 2016
LAFD Crews Battle Flames at Mt. Washington House Fire
Los Angeles Firefighters battle a Mt. Washington house fire on October 20, 2016.
Photo Credits: 
Creative Commons Licensed - Credit: LAFD Photo | Harry Garvin

The Los Angeles Fire Department on Thursday ended the multi-day body recovery search at the scene of a residential fire in the 4000 block of Sea View Avenue in the Mt. Washington neighborhood.

For seven days following the Major Emergency fire that broke out on the night of October 20, the LAFD, in collaboration with numerous City and County agencies, as well as private crane contractors, conducted a painstaking and methodical search for the remains of a victim thought to have been trapped by the roaring inferno.

In addition to specialized LAFD Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) teams, specially trained search dogs from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the California Emergency Mobile Patrol were repeatedly deployed inside the rubble of the 9,100 square-foot home in an attempt to find and recover the body of a resident last seen during the evacuation of the home. In consultation with the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, the LAFD has ended its recovery effort.

Unfortunately, despite a diligent and meticulous search, no victim or remains were located.

On the evening of Thursday, October 20, the LAFD responded to 911 calls of a structure fire at the home on Sea View Avenue around 8:40 p.m. Arriving firefighters found the large, three-story hillside home well involved in fire. Firefighters from across the City responded to fight the challenging blaze. More than 150 LAFD members took nearly three hours to get a knockdown on the fire. One 74-year-old woman was taken to a local hospital in good condition for treatment of smoke inhalation. A 32-year-old resident of the home managed to exit through a ground floor window with her dog and was aided to the street by firefighters. She was examined on scene by paramedics, but declined transportation to the hospital.

During the recovery effort the LAFD also worked in close coordination with the Department of Building and Safety, and heavy equipment operators from LA County Fire and private contractor Maxim Crane Works. The Department also worked with Environmental Compliance Officers from the Watershed Protection Division to ensure all runoff was adequately monitored and sample testing results were negative for hazardous materials, bacteria and toxins.

Overall, the LAFD and its partners worked continuously for more than 165 hours from the time of the initial 911 call reporting the fire through the search, mitigation and recovery efforts.

As of 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 27, the LAFD has transferred responsibility for post-incident activities to the property owner. All further demolition activities will proceed under an Order to Comply issued by the Department of Building and Safety.

LAFD Arson investigators will continue their investigation into the cause of the fire. If during future demolition operations any remains are discovered the LAFD and Coroner’s Office will respond back to the scene for recovery operations. 

The LAFD would like to thank its partner agencies and the Mt. Washington community for their patience and support during this prolonged incident.



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