At 8:34 p.m. on Jan. 9, the Beverly Hills Fire Department (BHFD) received a call for a structure fire at 708 N. Beverly Drive. When BHFD arrived on the scene, a fully involved first and second floor fire was blazing, engulfing the 8,888 square foot home. In total, approximately 40 firefighters responded from both the BHFD and the Los Angeles County Fire Department. According to BHFD Chief Greg Barton, the official knock down time was 2:23 a.m. the next morning. While there were no fatalities or injuries, the 1931 Spanish style house burned to the ground. The structure was vacant at the time, under construction for renovations. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
“So, this was a very difficult fire to fight simply because we were on a defensive mode,” Barton told the Courier. “Early on in the firefight, there was a collapse of two corners of the structure. And at that point, because there was no life hazard inside, and the walls kept coming down, we didn’t put the firefighters in there. As the walls were falling in, they were falling into the basement. That put a whole lot of fuel load in there with a lot of void spaces that made it difficult for us to get hose lines in to extinguish the fire. We went to a defensive fire attack where we basically attack the fire from the outside so that we weren’t endangering any firefighters.”
“It took a little while,” Barton added. “It was a large home. There are some walls standing and there’s part of the house that’s still standing, but it’s going to be almost a total loss.”
The cause of the fire remains unknown, but investigators began searching the scene the following day. However, due to the nature in which the walls burned inwards, officials say it’s not yet safe to start digging through the material and debris.
“We did reach out to our area partners and requested an arson dog with a handler to come out and walk through the area as well to try to look for accelerants or anything else,” Barton told the Courier. “Just trying to rule out any possible reason why that fire occurred. It’s probably going to take a few weeks before that report is done because it is such a large area.”
During the incident, there were several tall Palm trees that caught on fire on the 600 and 700 blocks of Beverly Drive from ember casts from the fire carried by the wind without being extinguished.
While the fire was successfully contained to one structure, the houses on the north and on the south side were evacuated and protected.