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Teen on life support after Sherman Oaks fire

August 10, 2010 12:27:50 AM PDT
A 14-year-old boy is on life support Tuesday after firefighters pulled him from a burning home in Sherman Oaks. Three others were seriously injured.The LAPD previously reported that the teen had died, but now say the teen is alive and on life support.

When Los Angeles City firefighters rushed into the home on the 4800 block of Tilden Avenue at about 6:30 a.m., the two-story structure was completely engulfed. Flames were blowing out of the side door, and firefighters had to go through the flames to get inside the home. Once inside, firefighters said the home was so full of smoke that it was pitch black.

All four people inside the home, including a 58-year-old man, a 50-year-old woman, a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, suffered serious injuries in the fire.

Investigators are still trying to figure out the cause of the fire. They are looking at the possibility it was a gas explosion, but so far haven't figure out why.

Neighbors reported hearing two loud explosions, and when they came outside, the rear of the house was engulfed in flames.

Firefighters were crawling on their knees through the house, trying to get around by touch. They were able to bump into the spiral staircase, which led them to the upstairs bedroom where the boy was found. The boy did not have a pulse and was not breathing when he was found.

"We just happened upon the stairwell," said L.A. City Firefighter Paul Schori. "It wasn't what you would normally expect to find. It's a spiral staircase, so it's really only about 4-foot circumference. We ended up running into it, started to go up it, handrail was completely burned off. The center, I believe it's an aluminum or metal staircase, so the center was pretty much glowing. We made it up a couple, three, four steps, got forced down by heat."

It was so hot inside the home that their helmets melted.

"It was one of the hotter fires ... it was because of the construction type, the plywood," said L.A. City Fire Captain Jeff Dapper. "Having a second floor, like any single-family dwelling, that plywood's going to keep that heat in and allow it to ventilate. So the no ventilation caused the heat to stay on that first floor for a long time."

It took firefighters 37 minutes to declare a knockdown.


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