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Firefighters Battle Massive Blaze in L.A.'s Tallest Skyscraper

May 14, 1988

I could not help noting with dismay two adjoining front-page stories (May 6) on the bank inferno.

Staff writer Laurie Becklund wrote an excellent account of two bank employees trapped by death-dealing smoke on the 37th floor. Theirs was a gripping story of humans using ingenuity to survive--against 62-story odds.

Staffer Douglas Frantz, meanwhile, drew a rather distasteful assignment. His well-written story quoted bank executives as they chortled over "the best $1.5 million we ever spent"--on a disaster plan designed to keep precious computer records, securities and cash from going up in smoke.

Although corporate profits are paramount these days, I wonder nonetheless if the toll in human suffering might not have been avoided--or greatly reduced--had the bank spent some of its millions on prevention rather than preparedness.

Curiously, I saw no quotes from financial fat cats about the cost in human terms. Thank goodness "the disaster plan functioned almost flawlessly . . . minimizing the effect of the fire on business and customers"!

Except for the human toll, it's comforting to know that it's "business as usual" at First Interstate.

P.M. McCARTHY

La Jolla

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