Long Beach Firefighters Injured While Battling Two-story Inferno

Two Long Beach firefighters suffered minor burns while battling an inferno at a two-story apartment complex last Friday, a fire department spokesman said.

The firefighter’s injuries are non-life-threatening, said Firefighter Steve Yamaguchi, who also serves as Long Beach Fire Department’s public information officer.

Firefighters were dispatched to an apartment building in the 2600 block of East 56th Street in the Eighth District at about 1:19 p.m. on March 4 after receiving reports that a building was on fire.

LBFD Truck No. 11 arrived in less than three minutes to find the two-story apartment unit fully engulfed in thick, black smoke and flames pouring out of every window and door on both floors, Yamaguchi said.

A thick, dark column of smoke could be seen from miles away.

Firefighters immediately went to work cutting holes in the roof of the building to allow the intense heat and build-up of smoke to escape, improving conditions for firefighters to battle the fiery blaze below, he said.

LBFD Engine No. 12 pulled a hose line into the structure and began to attack the fire storm.

As additional units arrived at the scene, the incident commander, based on the shear size of the fire, called for another engine to add extra manpower to the effort to douse the abundance of flames.

The fire raged at such a high temperature that it weakened the internal staircase in the building, and two firefighters partially fell through the steps as they advanced the hose line upstairs. Both suffered minor burns to their ears and necks, and one burned his gloved hand on the scorching-hot metal railing during the fall, Yamaguchi said.

Both injured firefighters were evaluated at the scene by paramedics and returned to duty, he said. No one else was injured in the fire.

While the building was a total loss, LBFD’s efforts prevented the inferno from spreading to additional apartment buildings in the same complex, Yamaguchi said.

In addition to the LBFD, the Long Beach Police Department and Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms responded to the scene.

Fire investigators determined the cause of the fire to be arson, and Long Beach police arrested a suspect, Yamaguchi said.

The estimated damage totals $350,000, Yamaguchi said.

A total of 14 LBFD units and 29 personnel teamed to knock down the blaze.

LBPost

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