Five people, including a child, and three firefighters were treated for injuries after a fire broke out at a 25-story apartment building on the westside of Los Angeles midday Friday.
Heavy smoke and flames poured from the 11th floor of the building in the 11700 block of Wilshire Boulevard (map) in the Brentwood area, after the blaze was reported at 11:43 a.m.
Five residents were transported to hospitals for smoke exposure, and fire crews checked on others who reportedly failed to heed fire alarms, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Brian Humphrey.
A child who was among the five victims was in critical condition, Humphrey said.
Three firefighters were hospitalized with minor burns and later released, officials said.
Fire officials described a dangerous scenario.
“It wasn’t just a room that was on fire. It was complete darkness in a tunnel with charged smoke throughout that floor,” fire Capt. Jaime Moore told reporters.
The 386-unit building, the Barrington Plaza apartments, was built in 1961 and did not have fire sprinklers, Humphrey said.
The blaze was kept to a two-bedroom unit and knocked down in 71 minutes, with 214 firefighters responding, Humphrey said. At least four stories of the complex above the unit that had burned were scorched black on the exterior.
About 20 minutes after the fire was put out, three people, including a small child, were brought to the building’s roof and two appeared to be receiving medical treatment, aerial video showed.
Resident Pamela Day was among the three; she said she encountered the child and an older man in a stairwell but returned to her apartment when the fire was out, she told KTLA.
“This is the most terrified I’ve ever been,” Day said. “When I first encountered the man and the girl, it was so terrifying because you could not go down and you could not go up. The smoke had then filled all of the hallways.”
“The worst part was the stairwells; they were like a funnel where the smoke lingered,” Day said.
When she returned to the stairwell to find the girl and the older man, they were unconscious. A friend began helping them, and Day said she returned to her unit and began screaming and throwing things off her balcony to get the attention of firefighters.
The two were taken to the building’s roof and treated by firefighters, and then appeared to be rushed to an ambulance, aerial video showed.
Meanwhile, three firefighters were taken to Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital — two with leg burns and one with an ear burn — according to Humphrey.
Dr. Peter Grossman, medical director of the center, said the burns were small and minor but could have been significantly worse.
“Considering the severity of the fire and the danger involved, these firefighters are all quite lucky today,” Grossman said.
The overall patient tally could climb, Humphrey said.
The fire was on the edge of LA’s upscale Brentwood neighborhood, several blocks west of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ West Los Angeles Medical Center.
Wilshire Boulevard, jammed with emergency vehicles, was shut down, and alternate Santa Monica Boulevard was filled with heavy traffic.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
The Red Cross has set up an evacuation and family reception center at University High School at 11800 Texas Ave. (map).
Residents of 51 units, an estimated 125 people, were displaced by the fire, Humphrey said.
KTLA’s Chris Wolfe and Kareen Wynter contributed to this report.