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Stratford Apartments fire

Stratford Apartments fire

Nov. 15, 1973:  A fireman prepares to enter the burning Stratford Apartments on West 6th Street in Los Angeles. Twenty-five people were killed in one of the worst structure fires in Los Angeles history.

Los Angeles Times writer John Kendall reported the next day: “A 64-year-old apartment house described as a ‘furnace with a chimney’ exploded in flames Thursday night, killing 24 persons (total later increased to 25) and injuring at least 52 others in the worst fire in Los Angeles history.

The fire, believed to have started in a lobby sofa of the Stratford at 1735 W. 6th St., exploded up open stairwells of the mustard-colored wood frame stucco structure, and, in five to 10 minutes, burned through thin-paneled apartment doors….

….Those trapped on the upper floors of the three-story, U-shaped building hurled mattresses from windows and leaped on them. Others simply leaped — and died….
…Firefighters said the building’s open stairwells invited the flames to burn fiercely in much the same way they did in the similarly constructed Ponet Square Hotel and Apartments where 19 died on Sept. 13, 1970.”

Safety doors to enclosed stairwells, called “Ponet Doors” after the 1970 Ponet Square Hotel fire, were ordered installed in one year in all pre-1943 residential structures of three stories or more.

According to this 1985 Los Angeles Times story, these doors saved many lives at  another apartment fire.

Middle photo: Victim is carried to safety during rescue operations at the Stratford fire. Photo by John Gaunt/Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: Burned-out roof of the Stratford Apartments building the morning after the fire killed 25. Photo by Larry Sharkey/Los Angeles Times

4 Comments

  1. October 18, 2013, 10:28 pm

    That’s my dad(Carlos tapia) on the left with the leather coat. The man being carried is his brother my late uncle (Juan tapia) and in the top his other brother my other uncle( Florencio tapia). My cousin past (Gloria tapia) in that incident I would like to contact someone in order to acquire some still pics.

    By: Hector Tapia
  2. October 29, 2013, 5:21 pm

    I lived in those apts when I was a child. 1960s. my friend lived in bottom apt during fire. othere. spentther friend girlfrinds dad was manager

    By: tallulahbetsy
  3. March 13, 2014, 3:17 pm

    I worked Rampart when the fire took place. They pulled up from roll call to assist. One of the most brutal things I ever had to go through. The FD were going to leave the dead in the street until the watch commander commandeered a bar next door and placed the bodies inside, where they stayed for several days, until the Coroner was through.

    By: Lurch
  4. August 19, 2014, 12:11 am

    I lived on the bottom floor in the '60's as well when I was 13. I was friends with the manager's daughter too, but can't remember her name. We used to sunbathe on the roof. The lobby was very pretty with an enclosed phone booth for residents. Such a tragedy.

    By: Joy

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