Los Angeles firefighter dies of injuries

Los Angeles firefighter dies of injuries  

Glenn Allen, a veteran of more than 36 years with the LAFD, was to have retired in less than two years.

Glenn Allen died Friday of injuries suffered Wednesday in a Hollywood Hills blaze. When rescuers found him beneath debris, he was not breathing and his heart had stopped.
( Associated Press / February 18, 2011 ) Glenn Allen died Friday of injuries suffered Wednesday in a Hollywood Hills blaze. When rescuers found him beneath debris, he was not breathing and his heart had stopped. 

A Los Angeles firefighter died Friday from injuries he sustained when a ceiling collapsed on him in a house fire late Wednesday night in the Hollywood Hills. 

“I don’t think any of us as firefighters would expect such a catastrophic failure of ceiling,” city Fire Chief Millage Peaks said after announcing the death of Glenn Allen, 61, an L.A. firefighter for more than 36 years. 

Allen, who was less than two years from retirement, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. His first grandchild is expected to be born Saturday. 

When Allen and dozens of other firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire was blazing across the attic of a house in the 1500 block of North Viewsite Drive.

Running through the attic were plastic pipes for fire sprinklers. The fire melted the pipes, flooding the attic and filling the insulation with water, Peaks said. The weight of the insulation appears to have led a large section of the ceiling to collapse, injuring Allen and five other firefighters. 

One of the firefighters was still hospitalized Friday with a broken ankle, but the others had been treated and released, Peaks said. 

When the ceiling collapsed, Allen was covered with debris. Rescuers used a chainsaw to reach him. When they found him, he was not breathing and his heart had stopped. 

The newly built three-story house was 12,500 square feet, according to Peaks. The Fire Department was continuing to investigate the cause of the blaze on Friday. But officials said it seemed to have started around a fireplace, then raced up the walls to the attic and spread. A couple who had been sleeping upstairs escaped without injury. 

More from LA Times, HERE

Previous Coverage from Stater911.com 

Fire and collapse at a Hollywood Hills (CA)  house fire injured six firefighters around midnight. One of the firefighters is reported in grave condition. 

The Los Angeles Fire Department held a press conference before dawn. Four of the firefighters are from LAFD, two are from Los Angeles County.
  

1561 N Viewsite Dr.* *FIRE WITH FIREFIGHTER INJURY* * LAFD firefighter is still in grave condition; family and Department members are by his side; one other firefighter is listed in good condition; two others were treated and released; LAFD Fire Chief awaiting additional information from doctors at Cedars-Siani Medical Center.  

From KNBC-TV :  

A veteran Los Angeles city firefighter who was close to retirement was injured early Thursday after a ceiling collapsed during a blaze at a two-story Hollywood Hills home.  

Firefighters were on the roof of the home when it collapsed, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Tina Haro said. Colleagues had to use chainsaws to gain access to the critically injured firefighter and pull him out. 
  

The audio above is not an official recording from LAFD. It is provided from radioreference.com via firefighterdispatch at YouTube.com. Gaps between transmissions have been removed compressing the time. The alert to the collapse occurs at 16:54 on this recording. This comment was submitted by LAFD Firefighter/Specialist Brian Humphrey this evening- ”David, Thank you for sharing word of this incident with your audience. As mentioned elsewhere (and as is our protocol), we wish to clarify that the authenticity and integrity of this amateur recording has not been validated. We will strive to keep you and your readers apprised of developments related to this incident in the hours, days and weeks to come. Fraternally Yours in Safety and Service.”  

“He is fighting for his life at this time, he’s in grave condition,” Haro said. “The other firefighters are doing well.”  

Two firefighters from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and three from the Los Angeles City Fire Department were injured, but are in good condition, Haro said.  

From the AP via Firefighter Nation:

The fire apparently started in a fireplace but spread to the walls and attic, making the flames difficult to douse, Haro said.  

“We kind of chased the fire around for a while, trying to find it,” she said.  

Unbeknownst to firefighters, the fire had burned through sprinkler pipes in the attic and filled the space with water, Haro said.  

The weight collapsed a drop ceiling held in place by 2-by-4-inch wood struts, Haro said.  

“The ceiling came down in huge piece,” striking two county and four city firefighters, she said.  

“Our rapid intervention teams came in and they could see his turnout coat under the rubble,” Haro said.  

From KABC-TV:
 
Six firefighters were injured when a ceiling of one floor of a house in the Hollywood Hills collapsed on them while battling a house fire.  

The fire broke out around 11:20 p.m. Wednesday on the 1500 block of North Viewsite Drive.  

Neighbors said the house was recently built to showcase its spectacular view. It took firefighters about nine minutes to reach the three-story, 6,000-square-foot home. Firefighters worked on the ceiling, which was where the flames were coming from.  

“Firefighters were in the process of gaining access to the fire. It was in the ceiling area, between the ceiling and the roof and the attic space and behind a wall near a fireplace,” said Los Angeles City Fire Dep. Chief Mario Rueda.  

KTLA-TV has the latest (5:45 AM PST):  

The fire appears to have started near a fireplace and then extended into the attic, according to L.A. City Fire Deputy Chief Mario Rueda.  

Firefighters were on the roof trying to extinguish the flames when the ceiling collapsed, Rueda said.  

One firefighter was taken out of the home on a stretcher. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in grave condition.  

Earlier from KTLA-TV:
  

Six firefighters were hurt battling a huge fire at a home in the Hollywood Hills early Thursday morning.  

The fire broke out around midnight at an upscale home in the 1500 block of N. Viewside Drive.  

One firefighter was taken out of the home on a stretcher. He sustained serious injuries, and was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  

The owner of the home told KTLA he woke up to the sound of sprinklers, and that it was a neighbor who initially saw the flames and smoke and called 911.  

From the LA Times;  

L.A. firefighter gravely injured, others hurt while battling fire at Hollywood Hills home

Fire crews use a chain saw to cut their way to the injured firefighter, who was engulfed by debris when a ceiling collapsed. Water collecting from a damaged sprinkler line may have caused the structure to fail. By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

 A home sprinkler system intended to save lives may instead have turned a burning Hollywood Hills home into a death trap for firefighters, one of whom was clinging to life Thursday after the sprinklers apparently led to a ceiling collapse.  

Investigators say water from a sprinkler line may have caused the structure to fail. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / February 17, 2011)

After a call at 11:19 p.m. Wednesday, Los Angeles firefighters arrived at the home in the 1500 block of North Viewsite Drive to find the house, set against a steep hillside along a narrow winding road, ablaze. 

More than 80 firefighters went to the scene. Some scrambled onto the roof; others ran inside. Two occupants of the home escaped unharmed.  

Unknown to the firefighters, a fire suppression sprinkler line broke or melted, and water was collecting above the well-sealed drop ceiling. A substantial section of the ceiling and everything attached to it crashed down.  

“We were doing our normal aggressive things that we do,” said Capt. Tina Haro, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. “It was just one of those kind of freak things that happen that we don’t expect or anticipate.”  

Debris engulfed a 38-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Rescuers used a chainsaw to cut their way through to him. When they reached their colleague, he wasn’t breathing and was in full cardiac arrest. They began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, then rushed him to nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was listed in grave condition.  

At the request of the man’s wife, his name is being withheld. Colleagues said he had talked of retiring within the next year or so. One Fire Department employee said the man was looking forward to the birth this month of his first grandchild.  

A second firefighter was hospitalized with a broken ankle. Four others — two from the city Fire Department and two from the county department — were treated for minor injuries and released.  

According to public records, the property sold in 2008 for nearly $7.1 million. The top floor of the refashioned house opens to the street; two other levels descend down the hillside. One fire official said the residents had moved into the home about a week ago.  

Investigators sifting through debris Thursday morning said the fire may have started in a fireplace, then spread to the walls and ceiling areas, Haro said.  

The possible source of the fire and the role of the sprinklers have raised questions about the home’s design and construction, which are under investigation, said David Lara, a spokesman for the city’s building and safety department.  

He couldn’t confirm Thursday whether the city had mandated a sprinkler system, which is sometimes required in a large home or those on hillsides with difficult access.  

A woman at the scene, who declined to give her name, described herself as the girlfriend of property owner Gerhard Becker. She said Becker, an architect, designed the rebuilt house. The two were asleep when the fire broke out, she said. City inspectors had just approved a certificate of occupancy days ago, she added.  

6 Firefighters Hurt in Hollywood Hills Blaze: MyFoxLA.com

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