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Woman Rescued After Shimmying Into Duct

May 26, 2006|J. Michael Kennedy | Times Staff Writer

Call it the case of the stuck, agitated woman.

And don't forget the 43 Los Angeles city firefighters it took to get her out of a jam Thursday afternoon -- the jam being an air-conditioning duct.

The duct is in the basement of a 20,000-square-foot mansion being built at 77 Beverly Park Lane, a posh address near Mulholland Drive and Coldwater Canyon.

Rescue workers piecing together the story -- though not all of it -- Thursday afternoon said that the 30-year-old woman ran from the street onto the construction site in a decidedly agitated state.

Why she was upset remains unclear, said Ron Myers, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

"We don't have any information about why she was in the area or why she was distraught," he said.

But after running onto the site, the woman made her way past workers to the basement, where she climbed a ladder, crawled into a 16-inch diameter air-conditioning duct and shimmied her way along it for about 50 feet.

That was at about 2:50 p.m. A short time later, a number of resources were on the scene, including an urban search-and-rescue team, heavy rescue vehicles, six fire companies and two ambulances -- 43 firefighters in all.

While one group of firefighters was devising a plan to cut open the duct, others were able to get the woman to back out of the duct until she was freed.

"It was literally an inch-by-inch thing," Myers said. "She suffered some minor scrapes and scratches and was checked out in a local emergency room."

Myers said he didn't have the woman's name. And police said they weren't treating the incident as anything more than possible trespassing.

"She appears to be under the influence of something," said a police spokesman.

As for all of those firefighters: "We'd rather have them on the scene than have to call them later on," Myers said.

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