In Memory of
Fireman Tony Arisco
Engine Company No. 54
Appointed July 12, 1922
Died May 5, 1941
Fall at factory fire on April 19.
Baby Line Furniture Company
62nd Street and St. Andrews Place
* * * * * * * * * *
Los Angeles Times, April 20, 1941
Engine Company No. 54
in photo is a
1923 Seagrave Triple
By Bill Goss
THE watchman of the Baby Line Furniture Co. was making his rounds shortly after midnight on April 19, 1941 and all seemed to be well as he checked through the two long sections of the one story plant. The building stretched from St. Andrews Place on the east clear through to Gramercy Place on the west and was divided approximately in half by a railroad spur track that paralleled the two streets. The company was engaged in the manufacture of various kinds of baby furniture,. the woodworking part of which was done in the east half and the painting, finishing and shipping being done in the west half. About one o'clock the watchman noticed the unmistakable odor of smoke in the air and upon investigation found that a fire had apparently started in one of the spray booths of the west half and already spread to the overhanging balcony where paints and other materials were stored.
As the watchman started back to the office on the St. Andrews side to call the fire department, passers-by pulled boxes 4387 at Sixty-second and St. Andrews and 4388 at Gage and Gramercy. At 1:03 a.m. the signal office dispatched engines 31, 46, 54 and 66, truck 66 and salvage 22 along with Chief Williams of Battalion 8. As the assignment rolled into the location the orange glow of the loom-up began to spread across the sky, giving an omen of which was to come.
Engine 54 rolling east from their quarters at Fifty-seventh and
Crenshaw, took the plug at Sixty-second and Gramercy and laid their line into the loading
dock entrance on the southwest corner of the building. Fireman Tony Arisco on the
nozzle, backed up by Sam Pate and Captain Anton Simonek worked the line into the building
until they had nearly reached the center of the structure. By now more and more of
the paints in storage took fire and the flames spread throughout the building with
terrific speed. It soon became apparent that flimsy frame construction couldn't
stand such punishment long and that collapse of the structure was imminent. It was
at this point that Chief Williams ordered Captain Simonek and his men of Engine 54 to
remove their line from the building. Acting Captain Al Spaeter of Engine 31, working
nearby, came over to give the three men a hand with the heavy loaded line. As they
started to back out, the hose formed a loop and in this bight Tony Arisco was trapped and
knocked to the floor, losing his helmet. The heat from the fire overhead and on all
sides was becoming so great that the job of removing the line became doubly tough.
Arisco scrambled to his feet and although unable to find his helmet continued to assist in
getting the line out. At this point the crew had reached the loading dock where
there was a three and a half foot drop to the sloping drive that led to the
street. Once again Arisco got caught on one of the unruly loops of the hose but this
time as he fell he lit on his head at the bottom of the driveway.
At the Georgia Street Receiving Hospital Dr. Durkin found that Tony Arisco had suffered first and second degree burns on his face and head and also had a possible concussion: placed him in bed for further treatment. Feeling better in a couple of days, the jovial fun loving cook of 54s was released to go home to finish convalescing.
On the evening of May 5, just before retiring Tony complained of his head hurting him, although by this time his burns had nearly completely healed. About 8:30 a.m. on the morning of the sixth, Mrs. Arisco went into the bedroom to awaken her husband but was unable to arouse him. Becoming a little frightened she called the fire department. Rescue 66 and the ambulance from the Seventy-seventh street police station were sent out at once but on arrival at the Arisco home it was found that Tony had been dead seven to eight hours. Subsequent investigation by the coroner showed that he had passed away from concussion and a traumatic cerebral hemorrhage.
Born in Los Angeles June 16, 1892, of Italian immigrant parents, Tony Arisco was survived by his wife, Mrs. Mary E., a daughter, Mary Ann, and a son, Anthony. He was appointed to the Los Angeles Fire Department on July 6, 1922. Requiem Mass was held on the morning of May 9, 1941, with Father O'Conner of St. Anselm's parish officiating. Pallbearers were his former comrades of engine 54 and other companies of Battalion 8. Interment was at Calvary Cemetery, with Fire Fighters Post 102 of the American Legion assisting.
The Fireman's Grape Vine, April, 1945
Copyright 1999 All Rights Reserved.