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Three-alarm fire ravages high school cafeteria in El Monte

January 21, 2013 |  9:56 am

Los Angeles County firefighters spray down hot spots after a fire heavily damaged the Mountain View High School cafeteria in El Monte. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

A three-alarm fire ripped through a Mountain View High School cafeteria early Monday before firefighters were able to knock down the blaze.

Dispatchers received multiple 911 calls about the blaze at about 2:30 a.m., said Tony Imbrenda, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The first firefighters to arrive at the school, located at 2900 Parkway Dr. in El Monte, reported "heavy smoke and fire" and called for a second alarm, he said.

Dangerous conditions inside the building, including collapsing facade and roof material, forced firefighters to withdraw and take a defensive approach, Imbrenda said. The third alarm was called in about 3:15 a.m., bringing the total number of personnel fighting the blaze to 150.

"It was a big fire," Imbrenda said, noting some flames exceeded 75 feet in height.

The fire was knocked down just after 6:30 a.m., Imbrenda said. A bulldozer was brought in to pull down burning embers, and crews remained on scene hours later to continue cleanup efforts.

The building, which KTLA reported also housed a maintenance shop, faculty cafeteria and student store, was heavily damaged. The fire did not spread to adjacent buildings.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury, possibly to his back, Imbrenda said.

Imbrenda said it was too early to determine how the fire started and where.

School was not in session Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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-- Kate Mather and Mark Boster

Photo: Los Angeles County firefighters spray down hot spots after a fire heavily damaged the Mountain View High School cafeteria in El Monte. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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