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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.


La Jolla

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