Smoke Rises in Structure Fire Near Sawtelle
On the evening of February 27, around 8 p.m., a fire broke out in an abandoned medical building on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and South Westgate Ave. Smoke was billowing off the building as first responders arrived on the scene, “They commenced an aggressive interior fire attack,” stated on scene Chief Legal Officer (CLO), “but due to the extent of [the] fire load inside they were driven to a defensive firefight.” The building’s windows had blown out due to the intense heat from the blaze, giving onlookers a view of the inferno within. By 10 p.m. the fire was practically out, with personnel casually extinguishing the last of the embers still burning inside. Luckily the quick response of the Los Angeles Fire Department helped to contain the fire, which is located adjacent to a small center full of local shops and restaurants that could’ve easily been lost to the flames.
The local representative of the neighborhood, Jay Handal, had this to say, “...I talked to the Battalion Chief when I first got here, and I told him that I really want to see the arson people come in and take a look because this place has been abandoned for over a year. My premonition is this was probably a homeless encampment fire.” The arson investigators couldn’t confirm any information about the cause saying only, “we will have to come back tomorrow once the smoke is gone.”
The strangest aspect of the whole event was the nonchalant attitude of the citizens milling around the area between police lines. A local taco truck across the street continued to serve customers, who in turn took front row seats in some plastic chairs, eating and watching the fire burn through the building. The Little Caesars and Verizon both kept their doors open despite the fire being quite literally at their back door. The bystanders declined to comment on the situation and only began to disperse after it started to rain, and the spray of water from the fire departments hoses dampened their curiosity. The CLO confirmed that due to the building’s vacancy no one was injured in the fire. It is still unknown as to who or what caused the fire.