Arson Investigators Search for Cause of 1,200-Degree Venice Blaze That Hurt 8 Firefighters

Arson investigators on Sunday were focusing on the east side of a Venice storage facility to find the cause of a fire that reached temperatures of 1,200 degrees and left eight firefighters injured.

"I don't know when they're going to let us in there or anything,” said John Hill, who stopped by the storage facility worried about his photography and filmmaking belongings that he accumulated over the past 35 years.

Hill, along with all the other renters, did not know if their units were damaged. The Los Angeles Fire Department said the blaze was limited to the second floor, but smoke and water damage was possible throughout.

The entire facility was on lockdown during the investigation, which may be concluded Tuesday or Wednesday, officials said.

Firefighters said the building did not have an indoor sprinkler system, which could have prevented the fire from burning for 15 hours.

Eight firefighters were injured Saturday while battling a "hot and stubborn" structure fire that ripped through Extra Space Storage at 658 Venice Blvd.  It was reported at 7:37 p.m. and firefighters battled the blaze for several hours, Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

The two-story building's metal roof hampered firefighting efforts to air the structure out and specialized blades were used to cut through the roof amid dark and smoky conditions.

About 10:50 p.m., firefighters took up a defensive posture, pouring water on the flames from outside the building, Scott said.

Courtesy LAFD

More than 360 firefighters were battling the blaze, which was extinguished at 9:56 a.m. Approximately one third of the facility's storage units were damaged, according to LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey. 

Thermal imaging cameras logged the heat of the fire at 1,200 degrees, and most of the injured firefighters suffered from heat-related injuries, according to LAFD officials. The temperatures caused helmets to melt and hose water to boil.

"We had water that was boiling on the ground," said Pete Sanders of the LAFD.

Three firefighters were taken to a hospital -- two for heat exhaustion, one for heat blisters -- and at least four others were treated at the scene.

“That’s a long time to be exerting yourself in high heat conditions," said LAFD Deputy Chief Joseph Castro.

An engine company captain and a firefighter from a truck company both suffered heat exhaustion and were treated on scene but were not transported, Scott said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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