Fire Damages House at 838 S. Crenshaw Blvd.

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838 S. Crenshaw Blvd. in the aftermath of this morning’s fire.

Firefighters were summoned at 1:07 a.m. this morning to a large fire at a vacant house at 838-840 S. Crenshaw Blvd.

According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, “The construction style of the 88-year-old building, typical of the era, allowed flames to race unchecked through the walls.” The “deeply entrenched” blaze caused “significant structural compromise” and forced firefighters to “transition to defensive operations” to prevent it from spreading to nearby homes.

As noted in the Buzz earlier this year, 838 is one of four houses (the others are 850, 844 and 836 S. Crenshaw) that have been scheduled for demolition to make way for a new 5-story, 44-unit condominium building.  But neighbors in the adjoining Boulevard Heights historic district, in the Wilshire Park HPOZ just to the east of the proposed project, objected to the development’s size and scale, saying it was out of context with and would change the character of the historic area.

836, 838, 844 and 850 Crenshaw may be demolished to build  Condo Project
838 S. Crenshaw (second from left) as it appeared last spring, with the other houses slated for demolition.

When the dispute came up last spring, neighbors Bineam Kibreab and Amanda Hayes of Bronson Ave. were able to temporarily prevent the demolitions with the assistance of Ken Bernstein of the Office of Historic Resources, the Los Angeles Dept. of Building and Safety, LAPD, and then City Council Member Tom LaBonge.

“We’d like to see something built on the site that’s in scale with the neighborhood,” Bineam Kibreab, who lives directly behind the proposed project on Bronson, said at the time.

According to both the LAFD and MyNewsLA.com this morning, 111 firefighters fought today’s early-morning blaze for 90 minutes, and two of them suffered minor injuries when “a section of the ground floor of the vacant two-story residence collapsed.” One firefighter was hospitalized with second-degree burns and the other was treated for a sprained ankle and released.  According to the LAFD, “the cause of the blaze remains under investigation.”

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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