Massive fire in Bellflower storage space, residents evacuate

Extra+Space+Storage+facility+bellows+out+black+smoke+from+a+massive+fire+in+the+facility.+Bystanders+watch+as+firefighters+start+attacking+the+flames+on+Nov.+9%2C+2021.+

Vincent Medina

Extra Space Storage facility bellows out black smoke from a massive fire in the facility. Bystanders watch as firefighters start attacking the flames on Nov. 9, 2021.

Vincent Medina, Managing Editor

An Extra Space Storage facility caught fire in Bellflower this afternoon, sending enormous amounts of smoke into the air that could be seen from miles away. LA County fire department was called at 2:30 p.m. and they are still working to contain the blaze four hours later. 

LA County fire department public information officer Jonathan Matheny described the fire crews’ obstacles as they battle the flames. 

“This is a multi-unit storage facility with a center hallway, which makes it difficult for access points,” said Matheny. “With only one entrance and exit, it’s very narrow.”

He continued to say the building’s attic is allowing the fire to spread throughout the building.

The public information officer says firefighters are in a “defensive fire attack.” They stay outside and pour water into the building. They believe there is a high risk for a roof collapse. 

“We initially started with an offensive attack, where our units went into the building to aggressively fight the fire until they realized conditions were too dangerous,” Matheny described. 

He said the fire is a “second-alarm fire,” meaning that over 80 firefighters are called to extinguish the blaze. 

Officer Matheny says the cause of the fire cannot be determined until it is put out.

“Our main concern is extinguishing it in a safe and effective manner,” he said. “With this being a second-alarm fire, a commercial building and having difficult access issues, I imagine we are going to be here for a few hours.”

The LA County fire department later tweeted at 4 p.m. that the fire was upgraded to a third-alarm fire. 

There are no reported injuries, but the fire is threatening nearby businesses. 

Dwayne Lofton’s hair product business, Expose, is next to the storage facility. He watched anxiously as the smoke poured over his shop but was relieved that the fire did not spread. 

“My partner and I were coming back from the grocery store, and we saw the smoke,” said Lofton. “She thought it was our business because we have all of these hair products.”

The store owner was able to run into the building to retrieve his dog, who was stuck inside when their neighbor caught fire. 

Residential areas were also nearby the fire and crews had to evacuate civilians from the area.

Antonio Soto and his wife live next door to the storage unit, and were called out of their house as the fire started. 

“I was scared we would lose our house when [the fire] started,” said Soto that evening as the fire was nearly extinguished. “I’m glad everything looks okay.”

Soto’s house and other homes in the area were undamaged by the fire, but he and some of his neighbors were unable to return to their houses for the rest of the evening. 

“My wife and I got a hotel room nearby. We picked up our daughters from school and we are staying there until we can get home,” said the Bellflower resident. “I’m grateful for the fire crews for protecting our house.”

By 9 p.m. the fire was almost completely extinguished, as an excavator started breaking in the roof of the structure. 

LA County fire department has not found the cause of the fire at this time. 

Story updated November 10, at 1:30pm.