UNIVERSAL CITY (CBSLA) – Firefighters discovered two people dead and two injured in a greater-alarm blaze at a music recording studio in Universal City Saturday morning.
At 6:54 a.m., Los Angeles Fire Department crews responded to a one-story commercial building in the 3700 block of North Cahuenga Boulevard — on the border of Universal and Studio cities — to find heavy smoke, with flames burning inside a 75-foot by 50-foot music studio.
A male and a woman were discovered dead at the scene, Los Angeles police Capt. William Hayes said at a Saturday afternoon news briefing. Two others, a male and a female, were rushed to nearby Burbank hospitals in critical condition. Firefighters initially said a third person had been hurt, but Hayes later clarified that only two had been hurt. No names were immediately released.
Hayes added that the studio has several recording rooms in it. About a dozen people were believed to be in the building when the fire broke out.
“It’s a recording studio that works 24-hours-a-day,” Hayes said. “There’s several individual rooms in them where recordings take place, so there’s different groups in each one of those rooms.”
It took firefighters just under 30 minutes to knock down the blaze. The fire occurred in a busy commercial area with several nearby businesses, including an In-N-Out and a Panda Express.
The building did not appear to have the proper zoning permits, an LAFD official said.
“This will be a lengthy and protracted investigation due to the complexity, the fatalities, and the fact that this is not a building that is zoned, or appears to be zoned, for inhabitant-dwelling or housing,” LAFD Assistant Fire Chief Patrick Butler told CBS2. “So that is some of our challenges at this point.”
It’s unclear exactly how many people were in the building at the time of the fire or why they were there. But many are used to hanging out in the studio and working into the wee hours — sometimes dozing or napping between working.
CBS2’s Greg Mills spoke to witnesses and people who survived the blaze.
“I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe,” said Mario Marroquin, a studio engineer.
“Honestly, when I opened the door,” said rapper L.A. Pryce, “I seen flames and fire and I thought it was too late.”
Several people complained to Mills that the building had no sprinklers and they could not find fire extinguishers.
“I don’t know if the place is up to code or not,” said Eldra Jermaine, a music producer, “I assume not.”
The L.A. County coroner’s office will determine the causes of death for the two deceased. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
On the KCAL9 News at 10 p.m, Cristy Fajardo reported that an arson investigation unit was on scene. She said an arson investigation unit as long as a police investigative unit were both on scene.
She spoke to the building’s landlord who contradicted reports that the building didn’t have fire-fighting equipment.
“We had fire alarm there and we also had fire extinguisher. They probably didn’t see it,” said Shad Rabbani. “Maybe because all the smoke.”