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Architect who designed and built home charged in firefighter death

February 15, 2012 | 12:47 pm

Glenn Allen death

This post has been updated. See the note at the bottom for details.

The architect who designed and oversaw construction of the Hollywood Hills mansion where a Los Angeles firefighter died was charged Wednesday with one count of involuntary manslaughter.

Gerhard Albert Becker, 48, is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles County Superior Court. He was arrested Saturday when he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from Spain.

The charge comes after a more than yearlong investigation by Los Angeles police with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Firefighter Glenn Allen was among dozens of firefighters who arrived at the home in the 1500 block of North Viewsite Drive in February 2011 to find a fire blazing across the attic.

Prosecutors allege that Becker, a German national, built an 18-foot "fire trough" through the home despite being warned of the dangers it may cause. It was described as an oversize indoor fire pit.

At the time, authorities said the ceiling collapsed and killed Allen and injured five other firefighters. They believed the fire started in the fireplace, then spread to the walls and ceiling areas.

They said the attic was equipped with plastic pipes for fire sprinklers. The fire melted the pipes, flooding the attic and filling the insulation with water. The weight of the insulation appears to have caused a large section of the ceiling to collapse, injuring Allen and five other firefighters, officials said.

[For the record, 2:10 p.m. Wednesday: An earlier version of this post gave the incorrect date of the fire as January 2011. The fire was on Feb. 16, 2011.]


Firefighter dies of injuries in Hollywood Hills fire

LAPD probes substandard construction in blaze that killed firefighter

Funeral service for firefighter who died in house blaze to be held Friday

-- Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Funeral procession in February 2011 for Los Angeles firefighter Glenn Allen, who was killed battling a blaze in the Hollywood Hills. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times.