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Man dies, 4 people are hurt in North Hollywood apartment fire

April 22, 2013|By Robert J. Lopez
  • LAFD Capt. George James, left, and Capt. Charles Ruddell survey the charred apartment building.
LAFD Capt. George James, left, and Capt. Charles Ruddell survey the charred… (Adam Van Gerpen )

Arson investigators Monday evening were probing a blaze at a North Hollywood apartment building that left one person dead and four others injured.

The fire broke out Monday morning at the two-story structure in the 5100 block of Riverton Avenue and engulfed an apartment unit with intense flames and choking smoke, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

"This was a well-involved, intense fire," department spokesman Erik Scott told The Times.

The blaze was so hot that it blackened firefighters' helmets, and the thick smoke forced rescuers to use an infrared search device to find victims trapped in the structure. 

The man who died was discovered by a firefighter with the infrared device. The man was taken in grave condition to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, officials said. His name and age were not released, officials said. It was unclear what caused his death. 

Another victim was taken to a hospital with injuries that were described as not life-threatening. The other three patients were treated at the scene. 

A Fire Department light force, which is a six-person team on a ladder truck and pumper truck, used a special power saw to cut a hole in the roof so that a dangerous buildup of smoke and heat could escape, officials said.

At least two people were rescued from a balcony by firefighters who had hoisted a ladder up to the building. 

The blaze was knocked down in 25 minutes by more than 50 firefighters. "It was a very aggressive fire attack," Scott said.

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Twitter: @LAJourno

robert.lopez@latimes.com

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