Security gate traps 2 in massive Hollywood house fire; 1 firefighter injured

A firefighter and two other people were injured early Wednesday in a massive house fire in Hollywood, where a security gate trapped two men among the flames, requiring a difficult rescue amid the intensifying blaze.

When firefighters arrived at North Cherokee Avenue just after 3:30 a.m., flames were already visible from outside the one-story, single-family home, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson Nicholas Prange. But before firefighters could focus on extinguishing the fire, they found two men trapped in the home behind a locked gate, Prange said.

The home had a locked double gate, and the men didn't have one of the necessary keys, he said. Firefighters were able to pry open the gate and rescue the men, who were taken to a hospital, Prange said. One was listed in critical condition, the other in grave condition.

The blaze had grown rapidly during the rescue.

As the four firefighters battled the flames from inside the structure, the built-up heat caused a dangerous flashover, which is when extraordinarily high temperatures in an enclosed space cause all the items and exposed surfaces to suddenly burst into flame, according to Prange and the U.S. Fire Administration.

Read more: 3 Firefighters Killed as Training Exercise Erupts Into 'Flashover'

“Firefighters have protective gear," Prange said, "but it’s not designed to protect [during] that intense of a condition.”

The four firefighters were able to escape, but one suffered burns on their ears, Prange said. All were taken to a hospital for further observation.

By that point, backup had arrived, and the flames were eventually extinguished, he said. The takedown ultimately took 48 firefighters and 31 minutes from when crews first arrived.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Prange said. The agency's arson investigators were at the scene Wednesday morning, which is protocol anytime a serious injury occurs.

Prange declined to put a dollar value on the losses, but said the fire caused considerable, if not total, damage to the house.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.