In the largest deployment of fire personnel to Santa Monica in more than a decade, firefighters battled a fire for more than three hours that broke out at a commercial building in the Pico Neighborhood Monday, June 18th, sending a large black cloud of smoke into the air, fire officials said.
More than 150 firefighters from both the Santa Monica and Los Angeles city fire departments were called to 1928 14th St., near Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, where the fire had been reported in the 8,000-square-foot building that contains a CD reproduction company, fire officials said.
A Santa Monica firefighter injured his knee during the battle and was taken to a local trauma center for treatment, Santa Monica Fire Captain Scott Ziegert said. No other injuries were reported in the fire, which broke out at about 7:25 p.m.
First-arriving Santa Monica fire units, which included three engine companies, one truck company and one rescue ambulance, saw that the fire had already burned through the roof of the structure, Ziegert said. Two additional engine companies and Santa Monica Fire Department command staff were immediately requested.
“There was a lot of fire burning through the roof,” Ziegert said. The commercial building is a split-level structure, with two stories in the front that house company offices and reproduction equipment. The rear of the building is a single-story warehouse used for product storage.
No one was inside the building when the blaze broke out.
The storage area inside the warehouse was equipped with 25-foot-high metal racks that held CDs and plastic jewel cases which, when burned, contributed to the black smoke and made for a very hot fire, Ziegert said.
“The plastic burns so hot and there was so much of it,” he said.
Approximately 30 minutes into the fire operation, a “mutual aid” request was made to the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD), which responded with approximately 30 engine companies, three rescue ambulances and specialized equipment, including dousers and transports, said d’Lisa Davies, LAFD spokeswoman.
The more than 150 combined fire personnel on the scene made it the largest deployment of fire resources to Santa Monica since the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, Ziegert said.
Santa Monica police were called to assist with control of traffic and the crowd, as many residents came out to watch.
The Santa Monica chapter of the Red Cross also established a disaster assistance center to assist personnel on the scene.
Police closed 14th Street to traffic between Pico Boulevard and Michigan Avenue until late Tuesday afternoon, June 19th.
The roof of the two-story section of the building collapsed early into the operation, forcing firefighters to be on the defensive during the attack instead of the offensive, Davies said. As the fire continued, the second floor of the structure gave way and collapsed onto the first floor, she said.
“The firefighters were on the defensive mode through most of the fire,” she said. The firefighters used multiple large hand lines and four ladder pipes to extinguish the blaze.
At 10:46 p.m., more than three hours into the operation, firefighters had extinguished most of the fire, Davies said.
Santa Monica structural engineers were called to the scene to make a determination of the safety of the building. Santa Monica fire investigators were expected to begin the investigation of the cause of the fire once the building was declared safe to enter, Ziegert said.
The total cost of the damage is yet to be determined. Ziegert said the structure suffered total damage and the contents were completely destroyed. Surrounding buildings may have suffered smoke damage from the fire, he said.