LAFD snuffs two house fires

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Firefighters: Fires in White Rock, Los Alamos break out just seven hours apart; pets and residences saved

By Carol A. Clark

The Los Alamos Fire Department battled two home fires just seven hours apart Friday. They saved the homes and also rescued seven dogs and several cats from inside the burning residences. No one was injured in either blaze, according to firefighters at both scenes.


Police arrested Eric Richardson, 25, and charged him with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after several bongs and a stash of marijuana were discovered on the basement floor of the first residence that caught fire at 950 Rim Road, said Capt. Randy Foster during an interview late Friday.

“We’re investigating whether these items contributed to the fire,” he said.

Homeowner Jennie Richardson placed the first call for help at 1:35 p.m. after she heard a smoke alarm go off in the basement of her home. She turned, saw smoke, ran outside and called 911.

“The response was wonderful,” she said. “The fire department got here so quickly and they were able to rescue my three dogs and get them safely outside. We are so lucky to have this kind of resource in our community.”

Fire Marshal Michael Thompson, who is just days from retirement, said another individual was in an upstairs bedroom. He was not able to go downstairs due to heavy smoke so firefighters extended a ladder to the upstairs balcony and he was able to get out safely.

When firefighters entered the basement, it was so hot that Thompson said the ceiling was about to reach flashpoint. And if that had happened, it would have been too hot for firefighters to survive.

“We were able to knock down the fire so quickly that it did not reach that point,” Thompson said, adding that the LAFD received six or seven more calls about the fire from area residents.

The second blaze occurred in White Rock. At 7:45 p.m., neighbors saw smoke billowing from a house at 431 Pruitt and called the fire department.

The owners were not at home when the fire broke out in a bedroom, Assistant Fire Chief Justin Grider said at the scene.

Despite thick white smoke pouring from the residence, firefighters were able to rescue four dogs and several cats. Los Alamos Police Sgt. Andrew Goldie and Ofc. Candace Tate placed the pets with neighbors while a search for the homeowners was underway.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.