Fire Lights Up Morning

Photo by Mark SHELTON An early morning fire drew the attention of joggers – and LASD personnel – Mike Leum and Ray Harley.
Photo by Mark SHELTON
An early morning fire drew the attention of joggers – and LASD personnel – Mike Leum and Ray Harley.

Neighbors hose down property as resident is led out of home.

By Mary O’KEEFE and Charly SHELTON

Los Angeles County Fire Dept. responded to a residential fire early Saturday morning on El Moreno Street just east of Briggs Avenue.

Witnesses said they heard explosions as the fire engulfed a vehicle and a horse trailer that were parked at the location. Many residents, nearby and several streets away, drove across El Moreno, curious about the high flames.

After 911 was called, neighbor Sandra Dasaad grabbed a hose from her home to wet down the leaves of trees with branches that were near the flames.

“There were explosions,” said Dasaad.

Early on, it was difficult to tell exactly where the fire originated. There was a ball of flame and sounds of an explosion. The home is surrounded by tall trees with branches that lean down toward the ground.

Two residents who are used to emergency response saw the smoke and came to help. From the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept., Reserve Chief Mike Leum and Sgt. Ray Harley were on their morning run when they saw the smoke.

“I saw a friend and asked her if 911 had been called,” said Leum, who is also a member of the Montrose Search and Rescue team. “She said they had.”

Harley and Leum ran down the street and began asking neighbors if the resident was still in the home.

“We asked neighbors if there was [anyone] in the house,” Leum said.

Neighbors told Leum and Harley the elderly male resident was still in the home. The fire was in the front of the home in the driveway and near the detached garage. Leum and Harley knew they needed to get the man out of the house in case the fire spread.

“I went around back and Mike went to the front of the house,” Harley said.

“I went around the side of the garage and accessed the front door of the house,” said Leum. “I went through the front door and yelled for the gentleman.” Leum located him and escorted him from the house.

L.A. County Fire Dept. arrived and quickly knocked the fire down.

“The call came in at 6:15 a.m.,” said Capt. Joe Grayson of L.A. County Fire Dept. Station 63 on Ramsdell Avenue. “It appeared to be an electrical fire. [The resident] was charging the battery of a car parked in a makeshift carport.”

The fire had spread to a horse trailer that was parked nearby. The home’s detached garage was singed, but the fire did not spread to its interior.

The damage to the vehicle and horse trailer was estimated at $10,000.

Grayson said they found empty propane tanks at the location. He added the explosive sounds that were heard by neighbors could have been the tires of the vehicle heating and exploding.

The fire was knocked down by 6:30 a.m. Firefighters cleared the area making certain there were no potential smoldering fires.

“There was a lot of debris around the vehicle [and horse trailer],” Grayson said.

Glad that the fire was contained to the driveway, the neighbors began returning to their homes. As for Harley and Leum – they finished their run.

Station 63 was assisted by Stations 19 and 82; Glendale Fire Station 28 was called to respond but released.

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