LAFD Saves Occupants Trapped Atop Burning Downtown Los Angeles High Rise

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A rapid rescue and fire attack operation in Downtown Los Angeles stopped a developing high rise fire and saved several people trapped atop the building.

At 7:18 PM on March 24, 2021 the Los Angeles City Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire in the 1600 block of S San Pedro Street in Downtown Los Angeles.  

While still en route to the fire, crews reported seeing a ‘loom up’, smoke billowing into the sky, indicating a working fire underway.

The first arriving fire company confirmed an eight story, poured in place vacant commercial building had fire on at least two floors and multiple people were sheltering on the roof.

With the Santa Monica Freeway adjacent to the building and reports of people trapped, a truck company responded to the freeway instead of the building, to affect a rescue. The aerial ladder was extended from the truck’s spot on the freeway across to the roof and firefighters ascended.

They gathered everyone present and evaluated the roof for safety. Due to the type of building construction and the fire’s location (second and third floors) it was deemed to be a safe site and they all sheltered in place.

Meanwhile, crews on fire attack were already making their way up to the 2nd floor where they encountered heavy fire. Despite the high heat (concrete building) they were able to quickly get a knockdown and make their way to the 3rd floor to continue fire attack.  

Ultimately, over 100 firefighters executing closely coordinated operations, extinguished the bulk of the fire in just 21 minutes from receipt of the 9-1-1 call.

Official ‘knockdown’ was declared at the 29 minute mark.

Firefighters continued to search each floor of the building and ventilate the smoke from the structure so those on the roof could be safely brought down via the interior stairwells.  

No other patients were located and all those from the roof were evaluated and none required medical treatment.

LAFD Arson and Counter-Terrorism Section responded for the cause investigation per protocol for an incident of this size. The investigation remains ongoing.


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