17 residents displaced after fire burns entire city block in South L.A.

A fiery inferno stretching an entire city block in South Los Angeles served as a terrifying early morning wake-up call for residents in the Central-Alameda neighborhood.

The fire was reported around 3:25 a.m. and involved a “city-block-sized area” of structures in the 1500 block of East Vernon Avenue, according to an alert from the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Investigators said the blaze started at a multi-family residential building that was in the framing stages of construction. It quickly spread, impacting a total of seven homes, leaving five of them a total loss.

The intense flames blew out Omar Hernandez’s living room windows and gutted the place he called home for more than 10 years.

17 residents displaced after fire in South L.A. that stretched a city block
17 residents displaced after fire in South L.A. that stretched a city block

In Spanish, he told KTLA’s Carlos Saucedo that he’s staying to protect what’s left of his salvageable personal items in his bedroom and that he has nowhere else to go.

Another displaced resident, Gerardo Diaz, was forced to bang on doors to get his older parents out of the home. Both of them had to be hospitalized.

“It was just really bad, screaming and crying, couldn’t walk from the stroke,” he said. “I did my best.”

It took more than 140 firefighters around 90 minutes to douse the flames and save some of the surrounding buildings.

A fire burning in the Central-Alameda neighborhood is seen on Nov. 28, 2023.
A fire burning in the Central-Alameda neighborhood is seen on Nov. 28, 2023.

“Because of the under-construction material and it being open inside, it kind of ripped through that entire building area and created a massive amount of heat that started to expose those nearby residents,” LAFD Cpt. Cody Weireter told KTLA.

Neighbors of the construction site said the area was not secure and trespassers could access the structure with little problem.

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“To just go up to it, nobody would tell you anything,” one neighbor said. “There’s no security, no nothing.”

At least 17 residents were displaced. A GoFundMe campaign has been organized to help Omar Hernandez recover from the disaster.

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