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Catalog Department, interior
Alternative Title
Los Angeles Public Library Institutional Photo Collection
Date Created and/or Issued
Contributing Institution
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Rights Information
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Los Angeles Public Library, located at 630 W. 5th Street suffered a devastating arson fire on April 29, 1986 which started at approximately 10:52 am. Within 5 minutes of the first alarm, fire trucks arrived on the scene but only saw light smoke emiting from the east side of the roof. But mere moments later, firefighters discovered fire in the walls - the concrete and dense design of the building allowed heat to build up rapidly inside. By 1:00 pm, the fire had extended almost 300 feet on the second floor through the building, and was visible in the west windows of the "Patent Room", which was located on the west end of the building on the mezzanine level. It was estimated that the temperatures were well over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit and crews had to be rotated every 15-20 minutes due to the heat and smoke they were experiencing. The enormous fire required a virtual army to extinguish it, including 60 fire companies, 40 command officers and support personnel, 9 rescue ambulances, 4 salvage companies, 3 helicopters, 2 emergency air units, and 1 arson unit, for a total of almost 350 Fire Department and Paramedic personnel. Finally, at 6:30 pm the fire was declared a "knock down" by the Fire Chief in charge. An estimated loss of $2 million to the structure and $20 million to the contents occurred. Approximately 400,000 volumes - 20 percent of the library's holdings - were destroyed, with significant water and smoke damage done to the surviving works. After an intense investigation, it was determined that the fire was intentionally set on the 5th tier of the northeast stack. The arsonist was never caught. Architects Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue and Carlton M. Winslow designed the original Los Angeles Central Library in the architectural style of ancient Egypt and it was built between 1922-1926.
Interior view of the Catalog Department at Los Angeles Central Library, which sustained smoke damage during the fire that ravaged the magazine pool at Central Library, April 29, 1986. The flooring cracked in one of the rooms at the back of the department and was closed off by the fire department. Staff was later moved to the Access Department in the east wing of the library.
1 photograph :b&w
Photographic prints
Los Angeles Public Library Institutional Collection
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library.--Catalog Dept
Central Library (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Central Library Fire, Calif., 1986
Libraries--California--Los Angeles
Fires--California--Los Angeles
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments
Goodhue, Bertram Grosvenor,1869-1924
Winslow, Carelton M
Downtown Los Angeles (Los Angeles, Calif.)

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