West Hills fire leaves 2 people critical, kills pets

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WEST HILLS — A man and woman remain hospitalized in extremely critical condition today after being rescued from a house fire that killed two of their pets in West Hills.

Firefighters were sent at 6:35 a.m. Tuesday to 6510 Capistrano Ave., where flames were coming from a one-story 1,900-square-foot home, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Before firefighters arrived, a smoke alarm had awakened one of the residents, who found the hallway near his bedroom impassable due to heavy smoke.

“Retreating quickly to his bedroom, he used a window to safely escape the burning premises,” Humphrey said of the man. “A mobility impaired elder man and woman sleeping in an adjacent bedroom had been similarly awakened and succeeded in briefly calling 911 for help before they were overcome by the thick smoke and heat of the fast moving fire, largely due to their bedroom’s door being left ajar while they slept.”

The younger man’s efforts to gain access to the couple’s bedroom through a window were unsuccessful due to the “ink-dark superheated smoke,” said Humphrey.

Thirty-one firefighters made an aggressive attack on the flames while also rescuing the couple, who appeared lifeless, according to Humphrey.

Teams of paramedics immediately rendered advanced life support measures on the pair, whose conditions improved from grave to extremely critical by the time they arrived at nearby hospitals, Humphrey said.

A pet cat and small dog died at the scene. No other injuries were reported.

The flames were fully extinguished in 19 minutes, Humphrey said.

“Though the 58-year-old home was equipped with functional smoke alarms as required by law, it did not feature optional residential fire sprinklers,” said Humphrey.

The monetary loss from the blaze is estimated at $250,000 — $200,000 in damage to the structure and $50,000 to contents, according to Humphrey.

Firefighters prevented the flames from spreading to nearby homes.

“The cause of the fire is not considered suspicious, but remains under active investigation,” Humphrey said.


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