Firefighters battled heavy fire in an apartment building, successfully defending eight of the 16 units from damage. Unfortunately, almost 50 residents were displaced and three transported with respiratory issues, as the fire consumed half the complex.
At 9:20PM, on July 4, 2020, the Los Angeles City Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire in the 8600 block of N Wilbur Ave in Northridge. Firefighters arrived to find a two-story apartment building with heavy fire showing on the 2nd floor.
Crews immediately initiated simultaneous evacuation and fire attack operations with four different critical actions needed; evacuate the structure, knock down the tree fire to stop the spread of dangerous embers, extinguish the structure fire and defend the second half of the complex from the encroaching flames.
The burning palm trees, known fire hazards due to the dead fronds which stay attached to the tree, released embers which carried onto the second building and started a fire on the roof. Firefighters were vigilant and quickly doused it with water to prevent the fire from taking root.
81 firefighters, under the command of Assistant Chief John Drake, battled for 43 minutes before declaring a knockdown. The two building complex suffered extensive damage in one building (8 units) while the dedicated efforts of all those involved defended the second building (8 units) from damage.
Firefighter/paramedics evaluated five patients and transported three for smoke related respiratory difficulties. Approximately 50 residents were displaced and Red Cross Los Angeles responded to provide them immediate assistance as needed.
LAFD Arson and Counter-Terrorism Section conducted an investigation and determined the cause of the fire was due to the use of illegal fireworks igniting the tree fire which extended into the structure.