Apartment Fire Kills 1, Injures 17

80 residents evacuate Inglewood facility through thick smoke.


 
 

Ruben VivesMartha Groves | | Monday, February 23, 2009


LOS ANGELES -- One person was killed and 17 others suffered minor injuries Saturday afternoon when an apartment fire of unknown origin forced the dramatic evacuation through thick smoke of about 80 disabled and elderly residents from a seven-story, 100-unit complex in Inglewood.

The injured included nine Inglewood police officers who were training at a nearby facility and raced to the scene to help evacuate occupants from the Regency Towers complex on North Locust Street, said Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Darryl Jacobs.

The officers were treated at local hospitals for smoke inhalation. Eight residents were treated for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to minor cuts and scratches.

Firefighters arrived about 12:20 p.m. and took 17 minutes to extinguish the blaze, which started inside a third-floor apartment and spread to the balcony. After dousing the flames, which remained confined to the one apartment, they discovered the badly burned body of an elderly man next to a wheelchair. His name was not immediately released.

Jacobs said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

About 30 evacuees were taken to the nearby Inglewood Meadows Recreation Center, where Red Cross personnel gave them snacks, helped arrange temporary housing and asked them about needed medications, according to Jerome Thierry of the Red Cross. The rest of the residents had left with family members, he said.

Inglewood police officials told residents that the building would be closed for 24 hours, and that police and a private company would provide security. Fire officials late Saturday afternoon made a final round through the building to find residents' medications.

Melissa Bradley, a neighbor, described a chaotic scene as residents fled the building while firefighters tried to locate stairwells.

"It seemed disorganized," said Bradley, 29. "People did not know what to do."

Bradley said she was standing outside her apartment building across the street saying goodbye to her sister-in-law Wendy Burnett, 30, when they noticed flames coming from the third-floor balcony of the complex, which features a front courtyard and a black iron fence. The two women ran over to help residents leave the building.

Bradley gave her shoes to one occupant who was in a wheelchair and left her apartment wearing socks. Bradley said she also rescued a white cat.

The cat, Munequita, belongs to Hector Beltran, 54, a resident of the complex since 2004 who says he has schizophrenia.

Edna Floyd, 76, was about to test her blood sugar when her smoke alarm sounded. She went into her living room and saw smoke pouring in at the top of the door to her apartment, which was next-door to the burning unit. She went to her balcony and waved her arms to get rescuers' attention.

Wearing white pajamas, a lavender robe and blue slippers, Floyd described her neighbor, the resident who died, as a quiet man. "I feel bad for him," she said.

Lee Harris, 72, a former actor who appeared in the 1970s TV series "The Streets of San Francisco," said he had no idea what was happening when he returned to Regency Towers after visiting his son and saw police and fire vehicles.

Harris said he expected to go back to his son's house for the night. "This makes you appreciate life a lot more," he said.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Special Operations, Special Patients

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

 

 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Tennessee County EMS Shows Off CPR Tool

Lucas 2 in service in Bradley County.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Abilene Loses Helicopter Service

Native Air leaves city with only one air helicopter service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire Chief Proposes another Controversial Ambulance Plan

Staffing change will leave immediate neighborhood without fire apparatus.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

FDIC 2014 CHAT: MIKE MCEVOY AND A.J. HEIGHTMAN

Mike McEvoy and A.J. Heightman discuss some new EMS technology at FDIC 2014.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >