News / Follow-Up
LB Fire Chief Describes Legends Inferno, Councilman Colonna & Mayor O'Neill Praise LBFD's Pro Work In Preventing Fire's Spread
(June 22, 2005) -- LB Fire Chief Dave Ellis (white hat in photo below) was captured by LB photojournalist Diana Lejins, surveying the scene at the June 21 morning fire that destroyed Belmont Shore's historic Legends sports bar and restaurant.
Courtesy Diana Lejins, photojournalist
A few hours later at that evening's City Council meeting, Chief Ellis described in some detail the inferno faced by LB firefighters...and how they dealt with it:
Fire Chief Ellis:: We had over sixty firefighters out there from a number of stations. They included ten engine companies, two trucks, two rescues, five chief officers, three arson investigators in additiont arson investigators from ATF [federal Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms]...We had twenty search and rescue members out there, there were youth from the community that were actually out there helping us clean up the neighborhood afterwards...and certainly Long Beach Police Department that allowed us to close down the neighborhood and actually effectively to fight the fire.
At the Council meeting, Mayor Beverly O'Neill noted that LB firefighters had avoided an even more serious catastrophe by containing the fire basically to one business "and that is an absolute marvelous accomplishment...We're very proud of what you did...It was a catastrophe but it was handled very, very well."
...At 5:05 [a.m.] when the first alarm came in, it took us less than three minutes to arrive on scene, and even though you saw a tremendous amount of fire that was actuall coming through the roof, the first engine companies that arrived on scene made an aggressive interior attack. That means they were inside that building, trying to put out that fire at the seat of origin.
What you're trying to do is confine it to the smallest area as you possibly can. The problem with that in this case is this building was not a sprinklered building, so we had a very limited amount of time before that fire would actually get up into the roof, get into the attic area, and the result is what you saw today.
Courtesy Diana Lejins, photojournalist
You saw the fire coming through the roof and we had total collapse. We had total collapse from the front of the structure all the way to the back, and also from the east to the west. At the same time, they were able to the confine the fire to the one business and...there was very limited damage [to adjoining businesses]...
Third district Councilman Frank Colonna, in whose district the events played out, said:
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Councilman Colonna: I gotta tell you something. I was there at six o' clock this morning and what our fire personnel did was just exemplary. ...
The effort was just totally professional, it was very well coordinated...It was really, really an exercise of total preparedness on how to deal with a fire that was just being supercharged...My heart was in my throat because I was driving to get a cup of coffee over at Starbucks...and you saw this plume of smoke and [I was] very much concerned because in the Shore...everything is just side by side with each other.
And it was just a heartbreak...To see this, and to see all of the memorabilia, all of the history. It made national news...It was on CNN. Legends is known around the world, and to see it happen was just a real tragedy [but] our fire guys did their job...
I do know that the owners are going to aggressively pursue rebuilding [Legends]...
I just wanted to thank our fire guys, because if you saw these guys in action, and these were the big fire units, the hook and ladders, the water coming down...they really confined the fire...it was confined and contained...
We had a true Legend going up [in flames] today, but it's going to be coming back, and again [to Fire Chief Ellis] Dave for you and all your personnel, you did an outstanding job.
Mayor O'Neill added that some TV newscasters, watching helicoptered video of the blaze, referred to LBFD's "heroic measures and the heroes that were fighting the fire, so our firefighters showed what they could do."
Later in the evening, LBFD Public Information Officer Paul Rodriguez told LBReport.com that despite the conflagration, LB Firefighters managed to retrieve and save about fifty pieces of sports memorabilia from inside Legends.
PIO Rodriguez says LBFD's initial view [investigation not yet complete] is that the fire started somewhere in the kitchen area although the exact cause still isn't known. He said the fact that it was an older brick building with some walled separations helped firefighters contain the blaze basically to one business.
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