Sarge, I'm Going In!
Press Conference with Initial Responding LAPD Officers to West Valley Explosion and Fire
Los Angeles Police Department Commander Gary J. Brennan, Los Angeles Police Department, West Valley Community Area Personnel: Sergeant Robert Weisz, Officers Jose Maldonado, Alan Cieto, Steve Conner, Ray Diaz and Calixto Valdiva
Saturday May 25, 2002
5325 Newcastle Avenue, Encino, CA (Incident Command Post)
Los Angeles: On Saturday, May 25, 2002, at approximately 12:00 Noon, the Los Angeles Police Officers who were the first emergency responders to a huge explosion in the Los Angeles West Valley Area, will provide details and insight to their experience evacuating the residents of the burning building.
On May 24, 2002, at approximately 11:04 a.m., LAPD West Valley Area Sergeant Bob Weisz was on patrol within the area near the Newcastle Avenue apartment complex when a radio call dispatched LAPD officers to the scene of the explosion and fire. Arriving at the scene, the 30-year veteran Sergeant Weisz directed his approaching officers to be aware of possible secondary explosions and the raging fire that was consuming the 130-unit apartment building. "As we pulled up, we saw people running out."said Weisz. Determining that there were other people in the building, Officer Jose Maldonado said, "Sarge, I’m going in!" as he and the other patrol officers entered the complex to search and evacuate the inside residents. Inside the devastated concrete housing units, the officers were surrounded by glass, broken doors, smoke, fire, and apartment dwellers fleeing for their lives. One unidentified elderly female, who appeared to be shuffling along only fast enough to escape the nearby flames, was picked up by an officer and helped to a nearby door. Four residents were injured, one unidentified man was critically burned, and remains at the Sherman Oaks Hospital, Grossman Burn Center. Hundreds of firefighters, and police personnel responded to the scene. Initial indications revealed that the incident was not criminal in nature, according to LAPD Chief of Police Martin Pomeroy. Los Angeles Fire Department is investigating the incident.
This Media Advisory was prepared by Public Information Officer Jack Richter, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.