Fireball engulfs Los Angeles City Fire Department fire fighters sending eleven to the hospital
On 16 May 16, 2020, a massive fireball engulfed 11 Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) fire fighters while they were battling a commercial building fire in downtown Los Angeles, sending them all to the hospital with burn injuries. At 18h26, the LAFD responded to a reported structure fire at 327 E Boyd Street in downtown Los Angeles, US. The first companies arrived on scene within four minutes to find a one-story commercial building with smoke showing. The businesses were not open at the time and fire fighters had to force entry with power saws to make access. They immediately initiated an aggressive interior fire attack with hose lines and a truck company was sent to the roof to perform vertical ventilation. As firefighting operations continued, the fire fighters encountered increased pressurized smoke and heard a rumbling high-pitched sound. Fire fighters identified the changing conditions and immediately started exiting the building and the roof as the situation rapidly deteriorated. Shortly thereafter, a significant explosion created a massive fireball that enveloped the fire fighters descending from the roof via an aerial ladder. The searing heat melted helmets, burned through protective coats and hoods and blistered and charred nearby fire apparatus. A Mayday was immediately broadcast over the radio and treatment began on the 11 fire fighters that had been caught in the inferno. Los Angeles City Fire Department Captain Victor Aguirre, the most seriously wounded and longest hospitalised LAFD member injured at the Boyd Street Fire, was interviewed in-depth by Good Day LA's Michaela Pereira about his brush with death and ongoing recovery on 2 November 2020.
All of the injured were working at Fire Station 9 on Skid Row, one of the US’s busiest. Dozens of additional fire and ambulance resources were dispatched to the scene to assist with medical treatment and fire suppression as the blaze continued to spread.
All 11 fire fighters were rapidly transported to LAC+USC Medical Centre for treatment. A 12th fire fighter was later treated and released at the hospital for a minor extremity injury. All 11 burned fire fighters were admitted to the hospital with injuries of varying severity. Thankfully, all are expected to survive and as of the morning of Saturday, 17 May 2020, three had already been released from the hospital.
At the peak of the incident, more than 230 LAFD fire fighters were on scene and the Major Emergency blaze was declared extinguished at 20h08, one hour and 42 minutes after it was reported. LAFD Arson investigators are working in conjunction with their law enforcement partners to investigate the cause and origin of the fire, as well as the nature of the business at the incident address.
Three fire fighters were released from the hospital on 17 May 2020 and continued their recovery at home. The two fire fighters listed in critical but stable condition who were placed on ventilators to protect their airways, were both removed from the ventilators. They continue to remain in the intensive care unit for treatment of significant burn injuries.
On 18 May 2020, only four LAFD fire fighters remained hospitalised as a total of seven have been discharged from hospital care.
Only one LAFD fire fighter remained hospitalised at LA County + USC Medical Centre while additional fire fighters continue to receive specialised care at West Hills Hospital Grossman Burn Centre on 20 May 2020.
Los Angeles City Fire Department Captain Victor Aguirre, the last remaining LAFD member to be hospitalised from the Boyd Street Fire, was released following 65 days of care in the burn unit of the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Centre on 21 July 2020.
Source: Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD)