The Los Angeles Fire Department’s Arson Unit is investigating an explosion and subsequent fire that occurred on Jan. 3 at an apartment building in East Hollywood.
The incident occurred at approximately 11 a.m. in a second-floor unit in the building at 719 N. Heliotrope Drive, across the street from Los Angeles City College. The explosion blew out an exterior wall of the second floor unit, and caused extensive damage to the apartment. No one was inside the apartment when the explosion occurred, LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey said, and only one person was injured. An unidentified occupant of the apartment directly above the damaged unit suffered smoke inhalation and was treated at a local hospital. Humphrey said 18 other people who live in the building were temporarily displaced.
“It’s under active investigation,” he said.
Investigators are focusing on a natural gas line in the apartment. Humphrey said the gas line had been “compromised” during the incident, and firefighters shut off the gas to the entire building. Anne Silva, a spokeswoman for the Southern California Gas Company, said personnel from the gas company worked with firefighters following the explosion. She reiterated that the incident is still under investigation by the fire department, but gas company personnel determined there were no leaks in the line.
“It had to do with the gas line valve being open in the apartment. It did not have anything to do with our facilities,” Silva said. “We did all kinds of tests, and the lines were fine. What was happening in the apartment is something I can’t speak to.”
Investigator William Zlendick, with the LAFD’s Arson Unit, said the gas line explosion caused the fire, but it has not been determined exactly what caused the gas line to malfunction. He said investigators are examining whether there was illegal activity occurring inside the apartment, but declined to elaborate. He said if it is determined that a crime occurred, fire department investigators will work with Los Angeles Police Department detectives to determine if charges will be filed. The occupant of the apartment was not identified, and no arrests have been made, Zlendick said.
Luke Zamperini, chief inspector for the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, said the 24-unit apartment building suffered visible damage to the façade, but was otherwise safe and habitable. Residents were allowed to return to their apartments later the same day. An unidentified individual who answered the phone and said he was the property owner refused to comment.
Firefighters temporarily shored up the wall by placing wooden beams between the floor and the ceiling. Zamperini said the damage could have been much worse based on it being a natural gas explosion.
“I am glad the pressure went to the exterior wall, and not the other units above and below,” Zamperini added.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.