Probe expands for Venice storage facility fire

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A team from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has joined the probe into the Venice storage facility fire that injured several firefighters and took more than 14 hours to control.

The blaze at Extra Space Storage, 658 Venice Blvd., was reported at 7:37 p.m. Saturday, and was declared out at 9:56 a.m. Sunday, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Arriving firefighters found black smoke billowing from the two-story facility, Humphrey said. The bulk of active flame was controlled within six hours.

Firefighters battling the blaze on the weekend. Twitter/@venice4change
Firefighters battling the blaze on the weekend. Twitter/@venice4change

Several firefighters were injured, including one who suffered a back injury and heat blisters, and two who were slightly burned. Other firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion.

The confined spaces, concrete walls, steel doors and metal ceilings in the two-story building left firefighters confronted with blast oven-like heat.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and a damage estimate has yet to be tallied, Humphrey said.

“The LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section requested the assistance of the ATF National Response Team to aid in the cause investigation,” LAFD spokesman Peter Sanders said Tuesday in a statement.

About 20 ATF agents and specialists assigned to the National Response Team were working today with LAFD arson investigators and local ATF special agents in the investigation.

Carlos Canino of the ATF said investigators will carefully sift through clues in seeking the cause of the fire.

“They’re going to look behind every nook and cranny,” Canino said. “We have a canine accelerant dog that’s going around, and that dog can smell any gasoline or any accelerant that might have been used.”

The ATF’s National Response Teams, first organized in 1978, have been deployed to hundreds of large fire scenes nationwide, and have been activated to scenes such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing, and the 9/11 Pentagon crash site.

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