Synagogue Sues L.A. City, County Over Skirball Fire

posted by City News Service - 

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Bel-Air synagogue is suing the city and county of Los Angeles over last year*s Skirball fire, saying they failed to clear the homeless encampment where the blaze started, it was reported today.

The Leo Baeck Temple said it sustained fire damage from the blaze, which swept through the hills of Bel-Air in December after a cooking fire broke out at an encampment nearby, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and cited by the Los Angeles Times. The blaze destroyed six homes and damaged a dozen others.

The temple says the city had received multiple complaints about the encampment, which was situated among dry brush and flammable vegetation, but failed to inspect or warn the public about the dangerous condition.

The city and county “knew or should have known that this presented a fire hazard, as the area is prone to wildfires because of the trees, bushes and other vegetation and foliage,” the lawsuit states, according to The Times

The temple lists four causes of action, including claims that the city and county maintained a dangerous condition on public property and allowed a public nuisance. It is seeking more than $25,000 in damages.

The encampment was nestled in a canyon several hundred feet from Sepulveda Boulevard and the 405 Freeway, hidden from passing cars. Officials have said it was home to an unknown number of people for several years.

The camp -- one of scores of makeshift communities that have grown along freeways, rivers and open space across Los Angeles -- was largely destroyed in the fire.

Photo: Getty Images

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