A 20-year-old man died in an apartment fire that occurred on June 20 in a three-story building near the corner of 3rd Street and Normandie Avenue in Koreatown. The victim was the 14th person to die in a residential blaze this year.
Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson Cody Weireter said firefighters received a call about the blaze at approximately 6:25 p.m., and arrived at the building at 247 S. Normandie Ave. to find heavy smoke emanating from a unit on the top floor.
“During the attack, firefighters found an adult male who was pronounced dead on scene,” Weireter said. “They did have smoke detectors that were functioning properly.”
The fire was extinguished in 18 minutes. A resident of another unit in the building was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, but did not require hospitalization. The blaze was contained to the single unit, and damage was estimated at $100,000 to the structure, and $20,000 to the contents of the unit.
Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office spokesman Ed Winter said the victim has not been publicly identified, pending notification of next of kin. He said an autopsy was conducted, but the specific cause of death was deferred because the body was badly burned, and testing is needed to determine whether there were other contributing factors in the death. Winter said the victim is of Bangladeshi descent, and authorities have had difficulty locating relatives.
Five additional people lived in the apartment but were not home at the time of the fire. They were assisted by the American Red Cross in finding shelter.
Weireter said the cause of the fire is under investigation. He credited the smoke detectors for saving the lives of other occupants in the building. A fire hose installed in the building was also used by an occupant, helping to contain the blaze until firefighters arrived.
Inspector Mike Webb, with the LAFD’s Fire Marshal’s Office, added that the building had other safety devices such as fire doors, which are located in hallways and keep the flames and smoke from quickly spreading. Residential buildings under 75 feet tall are not required to have fire sprinklers in units. However, a new state law passed in 2012 requires all new multi-story buildings to be equipped with fire sprinklers. The death was the first resulting from a residential fire since March.
“It has been nearly ninety days, almost three months, since the last fatality at a structure fire in Los Angeles,” LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey said. “If residents of Los Angeles are able to help firefighters maintain this admirable statistic, fire deaths could be held to less than those we have experienced in recent years.”
Webb said 22 people died in building fires in 2013, with 11 fatalities as of the end of June last year. The LAFD has launched a program to educate people about the importance of smoke detectors and other fire safety devices. Firefighters went door-to-door in the neighborhood around the building where the fire occurred, providing residents with smoke detectors, Webb said. Free smoke detectors and fire prevention information are available through the fire department. For information, visit www.lafd.org of www.mysafela.org.