Architect Charged in Death of LA Firefighter Killed in Ceiling Collapse

Firefighter Glen Allen was killed when a water-saturated ceiling collapsed at a burning Hollywood Hills home last year

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012  |  Updated 6:09 PM PDT
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Chief Millage Peaks Remembers Glenn Allen

LAFD.org

LAFD firefighter Glen Allen was killed when a ceiling collapsed during a February 2011 house fire. Credit: LAFD.org

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Chief Millage Peaks Remembers Glenn Allen

The fire chief remembers a firefighter killed during a house fire.
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An architect was charged Wednesday in connection with the death of a firefighter killed in February 2011 when the ceiling of a burning Hollywood Hills home collapsed.

Architect Gerhard Becker, 48, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of firefighter Glen Allen, according to the LA County District Attorney's Office. Allen, 61, was killed Feb. 16, 2011 as he helped attack a fire at a house on Viewsite Drive.

Becker designed and oversaw construction at the home, according to prosecutors.

Dozens of firefighters responded to the deadly fire, which started in an improperly installed fireplace inside the home, according to authorities, who said the fireplace  was designed only for outside use.

After flames burned through a plastic sprinkler pipe, the attic filled with water until the ceiling became saturated and collapsed on Allen, according to investigators.

"The fire started as a result of gross negligance," said Police Chief Charlie Beck during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

A nearly year-long investigation conducted by arson investigators and the LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division led to the charges filed Wednesday against Becker. The German national arrested Saturday when he flew from Spain to Los Angeles, according to the DA.

Bond was recommended at $2 million. Becker faces a four-year prison term if convicted.

Allen served the fire department for more than 35 years, and was a year away from retirement at the time of the incident.

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