Incident: Greater Alarm Fire
15440 W Sherman Wy
Saturday, March 3, 2012
TIME: 4:56 AM
INCIDENT #: 0193
VAN NUYS - Just before 5 AM on Saturday March, 3rd, 2012, Los Angeles Firefighters rescued a 19 year-old female trapped in a bathroom, inside her burning apartment.
Firefighters rushed with lights and sirens to 15440 West Sherman Way(google map), where they found a large three-story apartment building with smoke beginning to pour out from one unit on the second floor.
Meanwhile a young college student, who described herself as a, "deep sleeper", curtly awoke to the sound of smoke alarms echoing, alerting her of a fire. When she instinctively opened her bedroom door to the living room, she said it was, "ablaze". Using her cell phone, she immediately dialed 9-1-1.
|LAFD's New Dispatch Center, Metropolitan Fire Communications (MFC)|
Unable to escape, it was determined that a bathroom connected to her bedroom was the safest place to find shelter. As black smoke rapidly crept in, she was instructed to place wet towels around the door and in the cracks, to diminish it's deadly threat. Shortly thereafter, through sporadic coughing, and smoke stung eyes, she confided in the dispatcher, "Oh my God, I'm terrified". The dispatcher reassured her that firefighters were outside and running to her apartment, then stated, "I'm going to stay on the phone with you until they find you." She was then instructed to place a wet towel over her nose and face to filter smoke and lay flat on the ground to find clean air.
Concurrently, firefighters rushing to her aid were notified exactly where the trapped victim was located, expediting her rescue. A "drop bag" operation was swiftly executed to bring hose-lines to the second story. Firefighters then broke through the front door, battled the intense flames and performed an immediate search of the 1,000 square-foot apartment, and rescued the woman in a matter of minutes. She stated, "They were wearing masks and had flashlights. It was like a movie."
She was safely rushed outside and compassionately treated by Firefighter/Paramedics, then transported to Valley Presbyterian Hospital as a precaution. Later that day she was without injury or medical complaint and stated, "I'm so happy to be alive".
Under the command of Battalion Chief Hayden, 75 firefighters fully extinguished the blaze in just 22 minutes. The bulk of the fire was in the living room and kitchen.
The cause of this early morning blaze, is undetermined, possibly electrical in nature. The dollar loss is estimated at $40,000 ($20,000 structure and $15,000 contents).
Due to the amount smoke and fire, the woman would not have survived if it were not for three important things:
- 1) Functional smoke alarms providing early fire detection, and time to call 9-1-1.
- 2) Listening to the 9-1-1 Firefighter/Dispatcher's lifesaving instructions.
- 3) The outstanding work of trained Los Angeles firefighters.
The young woman's first name is, Blessing.
Related Story: LAFD's 9-1-1 Dispatch Center Made Historical Move
Los Angeles Fire Department's (LAFD) dispatch center, known for it's motto, "It all starts here", made a historic move during the early morning hours of February 28, 2012 story at LAFD Blog Link