May 4, 1988
First Interstate Bank Fire
Some 11 1/2 years ago this writer was fortunate enough to witness the Occidental Tower fire and write the Grapevine article (Feb. 77) "The Towering Inferno -- No Movie Version."
About 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday May 4, 1988, while visiting the City of the Angels, I heard OCD dispatch Task Forces 3 and 9, Salvage 4, and Battalion 1 to a fire at Wilshire and Hope streets. Upon arrival, Battalion 1 Chief Don Cate, reported fire showing from windows on an upper floor and said to OCD, "Give me 5 additional Task Forces, 5 Triples, and 5 Battalion Chiefs."
While rushing for the door of my hotel room at Sunset and Vermont, I shouted to my wife that I was going to a fire and did not know when I'd be back. Driving rapidly I had made the Hollywood Freeway and Vermont when Chief Cate transmitted to OCD, "Double my present assignment."
On exiting the Harbor Freeway at Wilshire I was right behind Task Force 20 (the 8th Task Force to arrive on the scene) crossed Figueroa Street and parked my car. I thought to myself "Why all the fuss" since I could see no engines, no hose or troops on the street. As I reached the corner of Wilshire and Flower and looked up, I could not believe my eyes. There was fire shooting out of virtually every window on the west and south sides of the 12th and 13th floors of this 150 foot by 200 foot building and there was the most eerie graveyard-quiet imaginable.
Fire personnel from over 60 units, 14 Battalion Chiefs, all three Division Chiefs, and 9 staff officers including Chief Engineer Donald O. Manning moved from the staging area to the fire scene to perform their duties both inside and outside the fire building. Ten LAFD Rescue Ambulances and approximately ten private ambulances transported rescued civilians and several injured firefighters to local hospitals.
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