On Monday, July 26, 2010 at 6:35 AM, 20 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 10 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 8 Arson Units, 1 Urban Search and Rescue Unit, 1 Rehab Unit, 1 Hazardous Materials Team, 2 LAFD Heavy Equipment Operators, 1 LAFD Emergency Air Unit, 3 EMS Battalion Captains, 5 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 153 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel, as well as responders from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and Investigators from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), all under the direction of LAFD Assistant Chief Daryl Arbuthnott, responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire with Civilian Fatalities at 821 South Esperanza Street in South Boyle Heights.

Firefighters arrived swiftly to discover heavy smoke showing from a one story 100 x 100, lightweight constructed commercial building.

Entry teams used several tools in an attempt to force their way into the structure through a series of security doors. Due to the building’s lack of structural integrity, volume of fire and concerns for firefighter safety, the Incident Command Team shifted from an offensive firefighting strategy to that of a defensive firefighting strategy.

After a bulk of the flames was knocked down, entry teams as well as roof team were able to mount an aggressive attack on the blaze. The structure, doing business as a tire and muffler shop, had tires and other auto parts stored on the roof and in several locations within the occupancy. The fire, which was difficult to fight, was skillfully confined to only the building of origin.

One victim, who had reportedly, attempted to extinguish the flames on his own, suffered 1st and 2nd degree burns over 40% of his body before being rescued by firefighters and paramedics.

A second victim who had left the scene earlier returned with severe burns to his upper body. The first victim a 61 y/o male is listed in critical condition while the second victim a 33 y/o male was treated at the scene.

Both victims were apparently within the building at the time of the incident and were able to escape with their lives. The two men were transported to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. It is unclear as to why the men and possibly others were inside the business at that hour.

During continued operations and despite the prompt and valiant efforts of all 153 personnel at the scene, firefighters later discovered two unconscious, non-breathing adults without vital signs of life. Both were declared deceased at the scene.

The ages and genders could not be immediately determined and no other victims were found.

The stubborn fire was finally knocked down 1 hour after the initial call.

Pursuant of protocol, Investigators from the Los Angeles Fire and Police Departments were summoned for a joint investigation, later joined by members of the ATF's Los Angeles Field Division and National Response Team.

A positive identification of the deceased, as well the cause, time and manner of their deaths will be determined by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

Submitted by Devin Gales, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department
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