COMPTON (CBSLA) – Cleanup efforts continued Thursday after a massive fire broke out in Compton on Wednesday, sending flames and thick black smoke into the Compton sky.
The fire started in a pallet warehouse at Rosecrans Avenue and Alameda Street. At 5:45 p.m., the fire became a four-alarm fire when a plume of smoke covered the area surrounding the industrial enterprise.
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According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which assisted the Compton Fire Department, concerns remained about sporadic explosions and the possibility of hazardous materials igniting on site, with wind gusts carrying embers into nearby buildings.
Firefighters said they struggled to control the flames due to significant water pressure problems, sometimes caused by outdated pipes.
But Compton Fire Chief Ronerick Simpson said the water pressure problems are a result of fighting large industrial fires, which require crews to connect seven or eight hydrants to the same water line.
At first, it will be difficult for any water system to get a huge amount of water in one place, he said.
Simpson said the water department eventually increased water pressure, improving water flow to the pipes while firefighters worked to protect the area.
And while Los Angeles County firefighters said three homes were lost, Simpson said the damaged structures were simply barns.
We were able to put it out without losing any homes, he said.
But a number of residents, including Victor Sera Marrufo, disagree with this assessment.
There were only two rooms, he says of the small back house where he lived for four years. And I’m going to fix it, because I can live here.
The building burned to the ground, forcing a high school student with kidney disease to sleep in his car. He said no one came to see if he was OK or needed help, which greatly upset neighbors like Jackie Venters.
I told him if we can’t find you anywhere, you come to my house, she said. And that’s what I meant.
The neighbours eventually found a shelter for Marrufo with the help of the Red Cross.
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I’m speechless, said Janice Irving, an 82-year-old resident who also lost her home in the fire. I don’t want to lose my temper, but it’s hard to control.
Irving, who is severely blind, can’t see what happened in his 52-year-old home, but his sister said there was a lot of smoke and water inside and some fire damage outside.
A lot of the wires at the back were burning outside, a hole in the roof, it was still burning today, Neela Hagan said. We called them back, we saw it, and we called them back to the back of the house.
But it wasn’t just the fire that damaged Irving’s home. Neighbors thought she was still in her room when a fire broke out behind her house. Firefighters then tore down the metal fence and removed the metal bars from the windows to make sure she wasn’t trapped.
I was glad she wasn’t there, Hagan said.
Irving, an Air Force veteran, was lucky enough to be out of town when the fire broke out, and for that she is grateful.
There are times when I’m here alone because I can’t afford a caregiver, even though I need one, she says.
Irving will be staying with family for at least the next few weeks while they seek a solution.
She wants to sit in the sun, garden and be close to her home, where she has lived for 50 years, Hagan said.
More than 150 firefighters were on the scene Wednesday night, said Jonathan Matheny, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
What we have here is a mess, he said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
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They will quickly and efficiently investigate what caused this fire, Matheny said. We can’t know that at the moment.
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