An elderly mother and her elderly son were killed and six others were injured when a fire broke out in an Encino condo complex Thursday night, fire officials said.
The fire was reported before 9 p.m. near Newcastle Avenue at a three-story condo building, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. When firefighters arrived on scene, they realized the condo was actually about a block away in the 5300 block of Lindley Avenue.
More than 100 firefighters knocked down the blaze by about 10 p.m., officials said.
One firefighter suffered a hand injury and was taken to the hospital in fair condition. Five people were taken to a hospital after suffering smoke inhalation.
Residents said they could hear yelling coming from the third floor of the building as flames burned above a woman who was trapped on a balcony.
"There was a lady on this side of the building going, 'Help, help, help,' and people are shouting to her, 'Please go out, come downstairs and go to alley or the street,'" the resident said. "She was like, 'I can't,' hallways all covered with smoke."
That woman was saved by firefighters, but two others were killed.
The victims were an elderly man and an elderly woman, who most likely died due to asphyxiation from smoke, officials said. The victims were a woman in her 90s and her son, who was in his 70s.
They were found in the thrid floor unit that was full engulfed in flames. Fire officials said that there was no indication that they tried to get out of the unit.
Officials said they were the 19th and 20th fire-related deaths in the city of Los Angeles this year. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
“One of the most common threads we’re seeing in the 20 structure fire fatalities we’ve had this year is the lack of functional smoke alarms and elderly individuals," LAFD Capt. Jaime Moore said.
The building was equipped with a "pull system" fire alarm that was operational, but no one activated it, Moore said. Hard-wired smoke alarms were found in both the units and hallways, but did not appear to be functional.
"Just because you have a smoke alarm on the wall, doesn’t mean it’s going to work," Moore said. "Actually push the button and listen to that audible alarm.”
Firefighters plan to canvas the neighborhood Friday as part of the LAFD's Smoke Alarm Field Education Program, in which they distribute free smoke alarms and fire safety information.