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Smoking, Candles Blamed for Separate Blazes

By Lookout Staff

Dec. 9 -- Smoking and candles were responsible for two separate fires that caused a total of $250,000 in damages to apartment units in Ocean Park Monday, Fire Department officials said.

Unattended candles were responsible for the blaze that flared at about 9 p.m. in a four-story apartment building on the Venice border, causing extensive damage in several units, said Fire Department spokeswoman Jill Barnes.

Both the Los Angeles City Fire Department and the Santa Monica Fire Department dispatched engines to the 3100 block of 4th Street, where they worked together to put out the fire, Barnes said.

The apartment where the fire originated was partially gutted, and there was damage to the units directly above and below the area where the fire started, Barnes said. There were no injuries. The preliminary damage estimate is $200,000.

The other fire occurred a few blocks away when an apartment unit at 2800 Neilson Way caught fire early Monday morning, Barnes said. The resident managed to escape the burning apartment, and 21 fire department members put out the blaze in 13 minutes.

The resident suffered smoke inhalation and was transported to a local hospital.

The unit had heavy smoke damage. It was also water damaged, as were some of the surrounding units, Barnes said. Preliminary damage is estimated of $50,000. It is believed that smoking caused this fire.

Candles should be used with care, especially in the holiday season, Barnes said.

"Always place your candles in non-tip candleholders before you light them, and keep candles well away from combustibles such as curtains, decorations and mattresses," Barnes said. "Extinguish candles before you leave a room or go to bed so that they are not burning unattended."

People also should be careful with smoking materials, Barnes said. "Never smoke in bed or go to sleep smoking, and wet the contents of ashtrays before dumping butts and ashes into a wastebasket," she said.
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