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Firefighters clean up after massive blaze at Gardena mortuary

January 12, 2012 | 10:37 pm

Firefighters work to put out a blaze in Gardena
Firefighters on Thursday night were mopping up a massive fire in Gardena that raged through a large building that housed a mortuary.

Several dozen fire engines responded to the blaze near 164th Street and Vermont Avenue, but firefighters were unable to enter the building because of thick smoke and intense flames that lighted up the nighttime sky.

Fire crews took up defensive positions around the building, blasting streams from water cannons onto the flames, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said. Fire crews eventually beat back flames and were able to enter the structure.

Firefighters said there were no bodies in the mortuary.

Capt. Mark Savage said the blaze may have been sparked by a dry Christmas tree that was set on fire. A witness told KTLA-TV Channel 5 that he saw a Christmas tree ablaze outside the building.

Arson investigators were at the scene late Thursday trying to determine a cause.


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Photo: Firefighters knocking down the massive blaze. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times