Photos and report by Rick McClure
On Saturday September 7, 2013, just before 8:00 PM, Los Angeles (CA) firefighters rapidly made their way up narrow roads to Calatrana Drive in Woodland Hills. Arriving firefighters found heavy fire engulfing a three-story hillside home and threatening nearby structures and brush.
Fire companies made an aggressive interior fire attack as water dropping helicopters surrounded and extinguished burning vegetation. Thirty minutes into the firefight a coordination exit was ordered in anticipation of building collapse. One-hundred forty-seven firefighters under the command of Assistant Chief Andrew Fox continued exterior operations until extinguishment in one hour and 25 minutes. Fast action by firefighters protected nearby structures and the blaze was confined to the 2,604 square foot, tri-level home.
Three adult occupants, who were not present at the time of the fire, were displaced from the residence, which was completely destroyed.
During the firefight, limited access and egress, low water pressure, and high ambient temperatures proved challenging for firefighters. The topography of the area presented concerns with water flow to surrounding structures and salvage efforts minimized damage. Fire companies remained on scene throughout the night monitoring flare ups from smoldering materials beneath the collapsed walls.
One firefighter sustained nonlife-threatening injuries; he was assessed at the scene and returned to work. Dollar loss is still being tabulated and expected to be in excess of one million dollars. The cause of the fire remains under active investigation by the LAFD Arson Section.
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More LAFD: http://lafd.org/
For more on the wildland-urban interface, consider Wildland Urban Interface : Ensuring the “Defensibility” of Defensible Space, NIST Study Offers First Detailed Look at the Progress of a Wildland-Urban Fire, and THE WILDLAND INTERFACE : IMPACT ON LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENTS.