Smoking may be cause of fatal apartment fire on Elm Avenue

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At 11:30 p.m. January 7, 2010, units from the Long Beach Fire Department responded to a report of a structure fire at 1100 Elm Avenue.  Engine 3 arrived on scene within a matter of minutes and found a first floor apartment fully involved in fire with fire extending to an adjacent unit.

The fire inside the involved apartment was so intense that flames reached the third floor landing.  The elderly female resident of the involved apartment was found lying in the courtyard near a planter with severe burns to her body.  Sadly she succumbed to her injuries and was deceased upon initial crews’ arrival.  Witnesses reported she walked from the apartment under her own power prior to collapsing in the courtyard. Witnesses report seeing the victim minutes before the fire and by all accounts was awake and alert before discovery of the fire.

There were numerous oxygen tanks through out the apartment. It was reported that the resident was on home oxygen and was a smoker. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.  Witnesses reported hearing at least one explosion from inside the apartment.

At least one ruptured oxygen cylinder was recovered by fire crews after the fire and would account for the sound and the rapid spread of the fire.  One large oxygen tank was removed by firefighters that fortunately had not ruptured.  Had it done so, several firefighters may have been seriously injured or killed. Oxygen is not in and of it self flammable but will accelerate an already burning fire.

A total of 30 firefighters responded to this incident. It took fire crews 10 – 15 minutes to extinguish the blaze after mounting an aggressive attack on the seat of the fire.  A thorough search was made of the apartment for additional victims.  It was found that the victim’s dog also perished in the fire.

Damage is estimated at $75,000 to $100,000 dollars.

The Red Cross was called out to provide shelter to residents of the apartment next door and to provide grief counseling to family members who came to the scene.


One Response to “Smoking may be cause of fatal apartment fire on Elm Avenue”
  1. Kara Hansen says:

    When will people learn? As a provider of Oxygen for over 25 years now we encounter people constantly who smoke and use oxygen. They are not only threatening their own lives but the lives of those who live around them. Unfortunately, as a provider we can only provide ongoing education and instruction on the safe use of the oxygen. I hope that our patients in this community who are using oxygen will learn from this incident. It is within our control to prevent these accidents!