Two adults and a dog were found deceased, and a trio of buildings in a north San Fernando Valley residential neighborhood were destroyed, when a fierce fire fueled by ammunition erupted before dawn Sunday.
The first of several 9-1-1 calls were received by the Los Angeles Fire Department at 4:42 AM on December 3, 2023, reporting a structure fire near the intersection of Glenoaks Boulevard and Foothill Boulevard in Sylmar.
As LAFD crews responded, the Los Angeles Police Department received several 9-1-1 calls reporting gunshots heard in the vicinity of the fire.
Firefighters arrived quickly to correct the address to 13755 Glenoaks Boulevard, reporting heavy fire to the rear of one of three buildings on a 1.6 acre residential parcel of land, with the intense flames extending to a the pair of adjacent structures on the property.
As the first arriving firefighters were preparing to commence an offensive fire attack on the blossoming fire, they heard sounds similar to rapid gunfire coming from the burning premises, and immediately transitioned to a defensive posture, via an exterior attack on flames with large hose streams, focused on preventing fire spread to neighboring properties.
Teams of additional firefighters and Patrol Officers from the Mission Community Police Station arriving in the pre-dawn darkness were also met by neighbors who shared important insight, observations and concerns regarding perceived or known hazards at the burning structures, allowing responders to quickly and effectively take action that protected the neighbors, adjacent homes and emergency response personnel as heat, smoke and a cacophony of rapid exploding ammunition filled the air.
A greater alarm assignment of LAFD Firefighters under the command of Assistant Chief Steve Hissong brought the flames in all three burning buildings under control in just 71 minutes. Despite intense fire and thousands of rounds of ammunition exploding during the blaze, no first responder injuries were reported.
As smoke cleared during their final extinguishment of the fire, firefighters discovered the remains of an adult female in a swimming pool, as well as the remains of an adult male and a deceased pet canine, in the rubble of the fire. An LAFD Human Remains Detection canine was subsequently used to search the property, but no other victims were discovered.
The all-but destroyed buildings were soon 'red tagged' as unfit for entry by the City's Department of Building & Safety
With multiple firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition discovered in the burnt premises, as well as what was believed to be ballistic ordnance, the LAPD Bomb Squad was dispatched to the scene, as well as LAPD Metropolitan Division Underwater Dive Unit to recover the deceased woman from the pool.
LAFD and LAPD personnel worked closely and effectively in a Unified Command during the response phase of the incident.
With the transition to an investigatory phase, LAFD Arson Investigators will focus on formally determining the cause of the fire, while the Los Angeles Police Department will serve as the lead agency in the overall and ongoing incident investigation, working closely with the County of Los Angeles Medical Examiner, as that agency seeks to positively identify the decedents, as well as the specific cause, time and manner of their death.