Fire engulfs Pico Rivera apartment building

PICO RIVERA (CNS) - About 300 residents were displaced today by a three-alarm fire that tore through a building at an apartment complex in Pico Rivera and sent a firefighter and two civilians to a hospital.

Beginning at 9 a.m., the emergency shelter set up for the Corsica Apartment Homes residents at Rivera Park at 9530 Shade Lane will be accepting donations including hygiene products and cold-weather gear such as hats and scarves, according to reports from the scene.

Firefighters remained on scene at the three-story apartment building in the 9100 block of Burke Street early this morning conducting overhaul operations, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

About 220 firefighters responded to the blaze at its height, which was reported about 3:35 p.m. Thursday. The first-arriving units saw thick smoke coming from the building, which is one in a cluster of four, and found heavy fire inside a vacant apartment, fire department Inspector Gustavo Medina said.

The flames made their way into the structure's common attic, according to Medina, who said the fire then spread quickly.

A woman and one other person suffered smoke inhalation and were taken to a hospital, as was a firefighter who was suffering from heat exhaustion, a dispatcher said. Their injuries were described as minor.

More than 141 apartment units were affected by the blaze, 45 of them with fire and smoke damage, and about 300 residents were displaced, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters at the scene.

Crews were forced to back out of the building and pour heavy water streams onto the flames from outside the structure in a defensive posture.

By 5 p.m., the bulk of the visible flames had been replaced with billowing smoke, and by 7:35 p.m., the fire had been contained, according to a dispatcher, but firefighters continued to put out hot spots late into the night.

Urban search and rescue teams and building and safety inspectors went through the structure once it was safe to do so.

The American Red Cross was summoned to assist evacuated residents, who were directed to the Rivera Park shelter.

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