At approximately 1:53 AM, Long Beach Fire units responded to reports of a structure fire on the 400 block of Chestnut Avenue. Fire units arrived onscene three minutes later and reported heavy fire coming from a rear unit on the first floor of a two-story center hallway apartment complex. Firefighters initiated an aggressive fire attack and confined the fire to the apartment of origin on the first floor. Another unit directly above the fire sustained significant smoke damage. Based on the size of the building and the number of residents that needed assistance, a second alarm was called at 2:03 AM. Knockdown of the fire occurred at 2:07 AM.
Prior to the arrival of Long Beach Fire units, bystanders in the area alerted a Long Beach Police officer about the fire. This police officer requested assistance and was directed towards a back alley where he was met by other neighbors stating that two people were trapped inside the apartment that was on fire. The officer was able to grab a 4X4 piece of wood that was lying on the ground and use it as a pry tool to dislodge the security bars on the window that had prevented the escape of both occupants. The officer was able to assist the 41 year old male victim out the window. Unfortunately, the male victim had sustained significant life-threatening injuries from thermal burns and smoke inhalation. As two other police officers arrived onscene to provide additional assistance, they too were able to assist a second victim, a 33 year old female that was trapped inside the apartment and pull her to safety. She also sustained significant injuries and smoke inhalation. Both patients were immediately transported by Long Beach Fire paramedics to a local area hospital for further evaluation and treatment.
There are 20 apartment units in the involved complex. Although only two units were directly impacted by the fire, no residents were allowed to stay in the building. The gas was shut off to the entire complex and the power remains off secondary to the power outage. One gas meter feeds the entire building and thus individual apartment units could not be isolated for restoration of service. In addition, the building has been isolated by Southern California Edison should power return to the area. Electricity and gas will remain off until the building can be safely returned to full operation. A total of 27 residents have been displaced by this fire. Red Cross resources were requested and have since arrived onscene to provide family supportive measures for those impacted by the incident and were subsequently displaced by the fire.
At the height of the fire, there were 50 firefighters assigned to the incident. The cause and origin of the fire remains under investigation.