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Two Deaths as a Result of a Four Story Hotel Fire in Hollywood, California

Aired August 16, 2001 - 08:39   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get back to Los Angeles, Hollywood, California, where an investigation is underway into a catastrophic fire at a residential apartment building. Several people still missing, many people injured, and the Los Angeles bureau of CNN just confirmed that a second person is confirmed dead. Let's go to a news conference at the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: He has unspecified broken bones at this time. We don't know the complete status. Two other firefighter received burns here at Sherman Oaks, one appears to be seriously burned on his leg.

There are two confirmed fatalities at this time that we believe. We're still conducting the secondary search throughout the entire building to determine if be have any other victims inside that building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us the circumstances of the second fatality? Do you know where that person was?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the person die inside there?

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: No, I don't. I don't have information about that. Let me introduce now Terry Manning (ph) and he can talk to you about the specific aspects of the operation.

UNIDENTIFIED KTLA REPORTER: What could have caused the explosion here? Do you have any idea at all?

TERRY MANNING (ph): Right. No, at this time the cause of the investigation -- it's ongoing. We have L.A.P.D. coordinating with L.A. Fire Department arson investigators to determine the cause and it will be a long day for us.

Basically we responded about 3:41 this morning. Additional request were made for resources. We ended up with over 30 companies, which is about 150 firefighters, as well as 10 rescue ambulances.

As soon as the firefighters arrived they were immediately faced with, one, fire on all floors, as well civilians hanging from the windows begging for rescue. Firefighters aggressively attacked the fire. As you can see, we have several firefighter injuries. Numerous rescues were made by picking people from the windows with the ladders. However, unfortunately, we did have somebody, a person we could not get to, and she jumped and expired at that time. A second fatality has since been found on the second floor, inside the structure.

In addition, we are having a complete room-by-room search ongoing at this time to determine if there's any additional rescues or victims that will be determined.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, can you give us an idea as to the scale of this explosion, given the elevator shaft ripped off, an iron -- large iron bars that were blown across the street from the windows of the building?

MANNING: Right. We have both the physical evidence, as well as from witnesses originally on scene. We did have a significant explosion. It is in the vicinity, as you estimated, of the elevator shaft. The cause of the explosion is truly unknown at that time.

However, the explosion did structurally damage the structure, and that was the location where numerous firefighters, as they were advancing hose lines, end up falling through those holes from the fourth floor all the way to second floor, and sustaining injuries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about smoke alarms, fire escapes? Was this building ready for this?

MANNING: Yes, this building was. It's an occupied building. Approximately two-thirds of the building was occupied. And part of the investigation process will be to determine if all the proper protective mechanisms were in place and functioning properly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the things we're hearing is that this woman who jumped to her death, she was waiting for a ladder but the ladder wouldn't go up high enough to reach her. Do you know anything about that?

MANNING: We were in the process at that time. Yes, I was on scene, I did have visual contact with the person. There was heavy smoke in that location. Rescues were ongoing. Firefighters were probably within five feet of a rescue of that victim. Our ladders would have reached. A few more minutes we could have made a difference. She was faced with extensive heat and smoke, and at that time she jumped.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is everyone accounted for, sir?

COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: L.A. fire officials providing a little bit more information at this point. There are now two confirmed fatalities in this fire in Hollywood. That fire official saying that the second fatality was found on the second floor inside the building. No other details at this point. The other confirmed fatality was a woman who jumped from her window.

We also heard the first suggestion there of a little bit more detail about structural damage. And the first suggestion that whatever this explosion was, large enough to blow iron bars across the street, iron bars off the windows and balconies. The fire officials saying that this explosion was catastrophic enough to cause structural damage and engulfed the building quite quickly.

Some firefighters who actually fell through from the fourth floor the second floor have been injured. One firefighter severely burned, also he was adding 150 firefighters at this scene and 10 rescue ambulances.

We are covering this situation here on CNN. We will keep you up to date as we get more information.

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