Los Angeles County firefighter dies battling house fire

California

A procession for Los Angeles County firefighter Jonathan Flagler, who died fighting a Rancho Palos Verdes house fire, makes its way to the Los Angeles County Coroners on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. Flagler was part of a station crew that responded to a predawn attic fire at a one-story house in Rancho Palos Verdes on the county’s south coast. (Sarah Reingewirtz/The Orange County Register/SCNG via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles County firefighter died early Thursday after being overcome by fire and smoke while battling a house fire, authorities said.

The firefighter was identified by his union as Jonathan Flagler, 47, a 21-year fire service veteran.

Los Angeles County Interim Fire Chief Anthony C. Marrone called him “one of our bravest.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued condolences.

“This devastating loss is a reminder of the dangers our heroic firefighters face every day to protect Californians,” he said in a statement.

Flagler was part of a station crew that responded to a predawn attic fire at a one-story house in Rancho Palos Verdes on the county’s south coast.

Firefighters contacted the residents, who were outside, and had entered the structure when it became “more engulfed,” said Lt. Charles Calderaro of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, which is investigating along with other agencies.

Marrone said he did not know exactly what happened but “all of the preliminary information that we have right now leads us to believe that it was the fire and the products of combustion that caused him to lose his life.”

The firefighter “put out a mayday for assistance from the other firefighters that were at the scene and they were able to quickly locate him, rescue him and then start the life-saving procedures,” Marrone said.

He was then rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

“I really want to recognize the doctors and nurses this morning that fought hard to try to bring our member back. They did everything in their power to try to save his life but unfortunately they were unsuccessful,” the chief told a press conference outside the hospital.

Firefighters and ambulance crews have been hit hard by COVID-19, but Marrone said there was no delay in transporting the firefighter to the hospital.

The International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1014 said Flagler was a member of the Vernon Fire Department for 19 years before transitioning to the county in 2020 when the departments merged.

He leaves a wife, Jenny, and two sons, ages 15 and 13, the union said.

Firefighters stood at attention on freeway overpasses and saluted as Flagler’s body was transported from the hospital to the county coroner’s office.

“Today’s loss is a reminder that life is fragile and firefighters’ lives are fragile,” said Los Angeles city Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas during a separate press conference on virus impacts on firefighters and police.

“His bravery and his sacrifice will never be forgotten,” said Janice Hahn, a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

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