At 2:43 a.m. (PST), six companies of Los Angeles city firefighters, two rescue ambulances, one EMS battalion captain, and one battalion chief officer command team under the direction of Battalion Chief Kwame Cooper responded to a structure fire at 2267 E. Imperial Highway in Watts. Firefighters arrived to find a two-story apartment complex with smoke showing from one unit within the Imperial Courts housing project.
Firefighters quickly gained access and were able to extinguish the fire in 12 minutes. Prior to the arrival of firefighters, deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department arrived on scene. As the deputies arrived, the occupants who had been awoken by the sound of a smoke alarm, were attempting to escape via a second floor window. The deputies were able to assist the occupants in their efforts to escape to safety.
The deputies were able to convince the occupants to drop a one-old baby to them from the smoke filled second floor window. The deputy was able to skillfully catch the child and avert life threatening injuries. Moments later, a 9-year-old boy was able to leap to safety from the same smoke filled window. Again, deputies were able to catch the child and prevent further injuries. One deputy did suffer minor injuries and smoke inhalation during the rescue. In all, it appears that at least four occupants were able to escape via the second floor window. Paramedics transported a total of four patients complaining of minor injuries and/or smoke inhalation to local hospitals for evaluation.
The patients included the 1-year-old and 9-year-old children who had been skillfully caught by waiting deputies. In addition, one 17-year-old and one deputy were treated and transported to local hospitals for minor injuries and smoke inhalation. The fire appears to have started downstairs in the area of the Christmas tree and then quickly spread throughout the lower floor. The location of the fire prevented all occupants from exiting the residence from the first floor exits. The cause is listed as accidental. The total dollar loss is still being tabulated. There were no other injuries reported.