Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

In Memory of
Captain Clifford L. Collord, Jr.
Engine Company 32
B Platoon
Died February 7, 1968
Trapped in elevator and died
of burns at structure fire.
United States Borax & Chemical Company
3075 Wilshire Boulevard

* * * * * * * * * *

Captain Clifford L. Collord, Jr.

At 10:23 p.m., February 7,1968, Engines 11, 13 and 32, Trucks 11 and 29, Salvage 32 and Battalion 11 Chief Vernon F. Braden were dispatched to a reported structure fire at 3075 Wiltshire Boulevard at Virgil Avenue.  Upon arrival companies found nothing showing at the nine-story United States Borax & Chemical Corporation.  A security guard told firefighters there was a small rubbish fire on the third floor.
  The companies rode the elevators investigating.  On the third floor white smoke was observed oozing form a small hole in the floor of a room near the elevator.  Chief Braden reported back to Westlake (the dispatchers) that Engine and Truck 11 would handle a small fire.  Chief Braden, his aide (driver) Robert L. Skemp and Fireman Gerald E. Babcock of Engine 11, along with a security guard, entered an elevator and rode to the second floor.  At the same time, Captain Clifford Collord, Jr., 47, of Engine Company 32, along with his firemen, Richard B. Matthews and James A. Oliver, entered an adjacent elevator and a maintenance worker took them to the same floor.  
  When the first elevator stopped at the second floor, the inner door opened, but the outer door remained closed.  Fire and smoke began to fill the elevator.  Unknown to the men inside, a fire was burning in a lunch room and spreading along the second-floor corridor. The men tried pushing the elevator button to take them back to the ground floor but to no avail.  The elevator was inoperative.  The emergency alarm system in the elevator was not functioning, their hand-held radio calls not heard, nor were their screams for help.
  Meanwhile, the other elevator with Captain Collord, his crew and the maintenance worker also stopped at the second floor.  The doors opened to an inferno.  Mathews, Oliver and the maintenance worker fled along the smoke-filled corridor.  The firemen found an interior standpipe-supplied hoseline and began attacking the fire.  Captain Collord was missing but thought to have fled down a front stairway.
  Fireman Lee A. Powers of Engine Company 11 had, meanwhile, entered the third elevator in the lobby and proceeded to the third floor.  The doors would not open and he was soon overcome by smoke.  He was later rescued by Fireman Bart P. Vlietstra of Engine Company 13 who, after giving his breathing apparatus to Powers, collapsed from smoke inhalation.
  Eventually Truck 11 firemen, using forcible entry tools, pried open the elevator doors and freed Chief Braden, Skemp, Babcock and the security guard.  As the smoke cleared, Captain Collord's body was found partially inside the burning elevator.  

Collord Family Photo

Collord Family Photo

Clifford Collord holding his daughter Nancy
at Fire Station 36 in San Pedro.

Collord Family Photo
Clifford Collord with his daughter Linda, in 
front of their home on Bynner Drive in San Pedro.

Source: Los Angeles Times
February 1968

Memorial Tree Planting Ceromony


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