Los Angeles (CA) County Firefighter Dies in Rancho Palos Verdes House Fire

Nathaniel Percy

The Orange County Register

A Los Angeles County firefighter, critically injured while battling a house fire in Rancho Palos Verdes early Thursday, Jan. 6, died at a hospital.

Firefighters were called to the 30700 block of Tarapaca Road for a fire just past 2 a.m., spokesman Franklin Lopez said.

They arrived to find the residents outside of the single-story home, sheriff’s Lt. Charles Calderaro said at a morning press conference outside Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where the firefighter was taken.

The firefighter was inside the home and firefighters aggressively attacking the blaze when smoke and fire overcame him, interim Fire Chief Alex Marrone said.

“He put out a Mayday for assistance from other firefighters at scene and they were able to locate him, rescue him and then start the life-saving procedures as necessary,” Marrone said.

The firefighter was quickly taken to Harbor-UCLA, where a team of doctors “fought hard to try to bring our member back,” Marrone said. “They did everything possible to try to save his life.”

The firefighter, who was not publicly identified Thursday morning, leaves behind his wife and two teenage boys, Marrone said.

He was believed to be in his mid-40s and started his career with the city of Vernon in 2002, before it joined the Los Angeles County Fire Department in 2020, Marrone said.

“This is absolutely devastating for the county family, the fire family, our brothers and sisters in law enforcement and the public in general,” he said. “We take an oath that we will lay down our life to protect someone’s life and property.

“He lost his life this morning battling that fire to save someone’s property,” Marrone said.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said “his bravery and sacrifice will not be forgotten. …

“This is devastating and my prayers are with his wife and two young sons as well as his friends and colleagues in the Fire Department and everyone that knew and loved him,” she said.

The street where the fire broke out has single-story houses and ends in a cul-de-sac that overlooks the ocean.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Marrone said arriving firefighters saw fire in the attic.

Calderaro said the family who lives at the home was not injured and that investigators don’t initially believe the fire was criminal in nature, but caused by something within the structure.

Firefighters plan to escort the body of the firefighter to the coroner’s office, Marrone said, after his wife has a chance to say her goodbyes.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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