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Explosion Results in Apartment Blaze

Aired May 24, 2002 - 14:46   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Back now to Encino, California, where investigators are on the scene of an explosion and now a fire. All we know is that a three-story building is engulfed in flames. Sixteen 16 Los Angeles County fire units and emergency crews are on the scene there trying to get things under control.

We don't know whether there were any occupants in that apartment building, that section of the building, when the explosion occurred. These live pictures from above, you're seeing now as it happens, from our affiliate KABC. At least those pictures you were seeing.

That investigation still going on. A three-story apartment building, located just south of the 101 freeway. The exact address is 5301 New Castle. Of course, investigators are hoping that onlookers stay away from that area so as not to hamper their investigation.

Let's listen in now on our local affiliate, KABC.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The edges of the units that weren't completely leveled by the explosion are still burning. And they're putting their hoses on that. There is so much smoke. They're doing this from the distance that you can see there.

I don't think yet that we have any firefighters actually inside the area that we're looking at where the water is being played on. They're doing it from both sides, in the courtyard, where the swimming pool was, which is off to our left beyond that big day palm tree. And then, from this, what looks like the top of a parking structure, they're using that as their vantage point.

If you look off to the upper right-hand corner, you can see a portion of that unit is still on fire. Mostly the roof portion, which is the hardest, probably, to get to, because they'd have to go around a corner or they'd have to fire the stream of water from that courtyard all the way across the destroyed portion of the unit into this corner.

So that's a hard one to get to. But most of the major flames had been put out. But it's going to take a little while. We're going to see a lot of this burning on the edges. There you go. They're using that fire stream from the other side.

These guys would have to go around a corner to get to that spot, or back up and shoot it straight up and then allow it to rain down. But we're watching, as Desiree (ph) moves around from one side of the unit to the other, we see it from this side, which appears to me to be sort of the east side. And then the swimming pool that we saw earlier is on the west side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really hard to speculate about how many units might be involved, because there is so much white smoke. It's really hard to see. But it looks like a pretty big, gaping hole.

Another thing, you can see the personnel lined up there along the street. They've laid lines there. And we can see the rescue ambulances that have arrived on the scene, and people milling about in the streets.

One other thing we noticed when we looked on the scene is just how much debris is blown everywhere. It's just an incredible site. You can see the location right there. We'll show you this map right now. It's New Castle Avenue, the original address that we got, 5301. Although we understand some people were being treated at another address close by, 5354 New Castle. This is in the Encino area, just south of the 101 freeway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have Jennifer Adcock (ph), who's a neighbor and lives in the building immediately adjacent to the structure that exploded this morning. Jennifer, can you hear me?

JENNIFER ADCOCK (PH), NEIGHBOR: Yes I can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to our Eyewitness News. Tell us what you experienced this morning. Did you hear the explosion?

ADCOCK: Oh, absolutely. It shook the entire building, including our sliding glass windows and all the blinds. And I thought maybe it was an earthquake, but it felt very different. And it was very loud. It was very frightening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you experience any of the debris that we see -- that flew around through the air? Was there enough explosion that you could either hear or see debris landing after the explosion?

ADCOCK: Not in our part right here. There was a lot of ash coming already, and like immediately. It wasn't until I walked up onto the roof and looked and it's all right there just behind us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you live in an adjacent complex?

ADCOCK: I live in the building that's right across the alley from it, so it's like right next to us, or across from us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a particular name of this complex.

ADCOCK: The one I live in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, the other one.

ADCOCK: I wouldn't even know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it condominiums or apartments? Or do you know?

ADCOCK: I believe most of the places on this block right here is condos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so it's probably condominiums. Now, this explosion, was it just one big roar and then you went up on the roof and you saw the flames?

ADCOCK: Yes. It was actually a big jolt. It shook the entire building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did -- you say you thought it was an earthquake, but it was different. How did it seem different?

ADCOCK: Well, it seemed like coming from one direction right in front of me, versus an earthquake, where the whole room is moving. So that's all I can -- I can't describe the difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anything fall from your walls or anything, or rattle when it happened?

ADCOCK: It doesn't look like anything has moved. I just saw the whole blinds move with the window.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sound was frightening enough, I can imagine.

ADCOCK: Oh, yes. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) some of the windows in the back of the building, facing the alley, blew out. But I haven't been back there to see. There's too much going on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened immediately after the blast?

ADCOCK: I went out to the balcony and I saw black smoke coming from the back of my building. Thought it was our building. I got dressed to evacuate. And then someone said it was next us to. So I went up on the roof and looked, and it is just embroiled in flames.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were the people around you doing? Did you see other people or talk with them?

ADCOCK: In my building?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ADCOCK: Everyone was running around screaming, trying to figure out what happened. So no, I didn't really talk to anybody, other than the maintenance man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see anyone that was injured from the blast, or the fire?

ADCOCK: No, but you mentioned somebody in a wheelchair. I did see them bring someone down the driveway in a wheelchair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did they appear to be injured? ADCOCK: I didn't really see any injuries. But it seems like they are, you know, with the ambulances, treating them there in the alley between us.

WHITFIELD: You're listening to the accounts of one person who lives near the site of an explosion and now fire in Encino, California. She says when it happened she felt a big jolt, nothing like an earthquake and the next thing you know, there were flames. Investigators now on the scene of what appears to be a fire out of control at a three-story garden apartment.

That one resident on the phone with the reporters at KTLA says that it's an area mostly of condominiums. It took place just south of the 101 freeway on New Castle.

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