Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

In Memory of
Firefighter Lynn R. Hazlett
Squad Company No. 39 "A" Platoon
May 12, 1979
Suffocation in Arson fire.
Remington Industries
7350 Fulton Avenue
North Hollywood

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Firefighter Lynn R. Hazlett


LOS ANGELES, CA 90012                485-6054

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                          MAY 14, 1979

Within a period of three weeks a second Los Angeles

Firefighter has met his death while fighting a deliberately

set fire.

Forty-two year old Lynn R. Hazlett, who had been with the

Los Angeles City Fire Department for 17 1/2 years, died

Sunday morning, May 13, while fighting a fire at an office

supply distributor in North Hollywood.

Hazlet was well liked and highly respected by his fellow

firefighters.  He worked at some of the most active fire

stations in the City and also took it upon himself to

qualify as a paramedic.

He is survived by his wife Susan Annette and four children.

The fire at the Remington Industries, Inc., 7350 Fulton

Avenue, North Hollywood, was reported to the Fire Department

at 9:04 p.m. Saturday night, May 12.  First firefighters on

the scene discovered fire inside a warehouse used to store

various products including toxic and flammable duplicating

fluids.  During fire fighting operations 23 firefighters

were transported to various hospitals as a result of smoke

inhalation and chemical burns.  Subsequently, it was

determined that the fire was of incendiary origin

(deliberately set).  Ironically, Saturday the Fire

Department was commemorating Fire Service Recognition Day

throughout Los Angeles.  The theme for this year's Fire

Service Day was how the public can help the Fire Service

combat arson.


Firefighter Lynn R. Hazlett
Squad Company No. 39 "A" Platoon


    Twenty-four companies of firefighters, under the direction of Deputy Chief A. L. Schultz, Deputy Department Commander on call, responded to a major emergency at 7350 Fulton Ave. in the North Hollywood area.  First arriving companies found a 100'x230' warehouse with some smoke showing and heavy water flow from sprinkler heads.  While preparing for overhaul the fire erupted.  The fire was fed by stored duplicating fluid.  Firefighters using light water and handlines extinguished the fire in three hours and four minutes.  Twenty-four firefighters were transported to hospitals with smoke inhalation and chemical burns. Fourteen firefighters were placed off duty and one firefighter, Lynn Hazlett, died as a result of the fire.  The damage was listed at approximately $400,000 and the cause of the fire is listed as incendiary.

The Firemen's Grapevine


Los Angeles Times
MONDAY, MAY 14, 1979


Times Staff Writer

  Ten greater alarm fires erupted in Los Angeles during a 35-hour period Saturday and Sunday,  leaving one fireman dead, 32 injured and keeping more than 100 city Fire Department companies busy.
  Ironically, most of the trouble came Saturday when the department held its annual Fire Service Day to increase public awareness of its activities and fire safety.  But hundreds of city fire fighters were tied down that day with seven fires, including two major emergencies.
  One of the major fires, at a Van Nuys photocopy supply warehouse Saturday night, claimed the life of fireman Lynn R. Hazlett and injured 23 others.
  Hazlett, 42, of Frazier Park was killed as more than 100 fire fighters from 24 companies battled the blaze at the Remington Industries warehouse, 7350 Fulton Ave.  The cause of Hazlett's death was uncertain, but a spokesman for the county corner's office said it probably was asphyxia from smoke inhalation.
  The Van Nuys fire gutted a one-story, concrete block warehouse used for storing highly toxic and flammable duplicating fluid, causing $250,000 damage to the structure and $150,000 damage to its contents, a Fire Department spokesman said.
  The building's sprinkler system had been going for some time before firemen answered an alarm at 9:04 p.m., he said.  The fire appeared to be out  when firemen arrived, but started again shortly afterward and flared up several more times before it was finally knocked down at 12:08 a.m.
  City paramedics rushed 23 men suffering from smoke inhalation and chemical burns to four San Fernando Valley area hospitals, Fire Department public service officer Willis Martin said.  By Sunday, 21 of them had been released, he said.  Twelve were put off-duty.
  Hazlett, a veteran of 17 1/2 years with the department, was a member of Van Nuys Squad 39A, one of the first units to arrive at the fire.  He apparently became lost inside the building, a fireman at the scene told The Times.  After other firemen found him unconscious, he was taken to Valley Receiving Hospital in Van Nuys at 12:03 a.m. Sunday, and pronounced dead there at 12:15 a.m., a corner's spokesman said.
  Hazlett leaves his wife, Susan Annette, who is pregnant with their first child, and four children by a previous marriage.  A Fire Department spokesman said the cause of the blaze was "incendiary," and police and Fire Department arson instigators were investigating.  "The cause was other than accidental." said Martin Garza, public service officer.

Continued from First Page 


  As firemen struggled to control the Van Nuys blaze, 25 companies resounded to the second major emergency fire in the 1052 Building, an office building at 1052 W. 6th St. Five fire fighters suffered heat exhaustion in battling the fire for almost  an hour before putting it out at 12:34 a.m. Sunday.  The injured were taken to a nearby hospital  where they were treated and released.
  The fire started in a sixth-floor office in the 10-story building,  and was confined to that floor.  Garza said.  He estimated damage at $300,000.  The cause was under investigation.  The building reportedly was empty.

The other greater-alarm fires were at:
--10427 Lindbrook Drive, Westwood.  A pool heater apparently ignited some shrubbery Sunday and then jumped to the roof of a two-story house.  Three firemen were injured, two suffering from heat exhaustion and one from a sprained ankle.  All were treated at UCLA Medical Center.  The fire, extinguished after more than an hour, caused damage estimated at $40,000.
--240 N. Robinson Ave. in the Silverlake area.  The fire stated Sunday morning in a two-story apartment building when a television set in a second-story apartment exploded and set fire to some curtains.  Nine companies responded, and there were no injuries.  Damage was put at $28,000.
--The Silver Strand Hotel, 729 S. Union Ave. Eleven companies went to the scene Saturday night and doused the flames in 18 minutes.  About 80 residents were evacuated, with two suffering smoke inhalation after the fire started in a top floor apartment and then spread to other apartments in the four story building. Damage was estimated at $17,200.
--The Howell Hotel, 549 S. Mai St. Thirteen companies fought the Saturday morning fire that caused an estimated $45,000 damage.  There were no injuries.  The fire, which apparently started in a second-floor apartment, spread through the third floor and roof.  Several adjacent structures sustained water damage.  The cause was unknown.
--El Sereno.  Nine companies and two helicopters extinguished a six-are grass fire Saturday.
--The Seventh Day Adventist Church near the Harbor freeway, where damage was estimated at $150,000.
--Grand Retirement Home, 1015 S. Orange Grove Ave., West Hollywood, where one fireman suffered second-degree burns to his chest.
--Pico Blvd. and Kenmore Ave.  Firemen encountered crowd-control problems at the 10th fire, when an explosion Sunday afternoon sent flames through a roofing material warehouse less than a block from a line of motorists waiting to buy gasoline.  City police interrupted the line to let emergency vehicles through and the the fire was extinguished in 31 minutes.


by Paul Ditzel
"A Century of Service”
Page 211

  A few miles west of the Mullin Lumber Company was a single-story brick building housing the Acme Supply & Ribbon Company and Remington Industries at 7350 Fulton Avenue, North Hollywood.  The jointly-owned and operated retail and wholesale firms dealt in office supplies and equipment.  The 100-by-200-foot structure contained a large storage area for photocopying paper and toner, a petroleum distillate similar to kerosene, used in liquid-operated copying machines.
  At 9:04 p.m., that Fire Service Day, Saturday May 12, 1979, OCD dispatched an assignment, including Squad 39, in response to a water flow alarm from Remington Industries.  Forcing entry, firefighters found the building well-charged with smoke.  The sprinkler system had all-but doused the flames.  Firefighters also discovered three points of origin.  Battalion 14 Chief Ted O'Miela immediately called for arson investigators.  The sprinkler system was shut off and as little evidence as possible was disturbed as firefighters began what they expected to be a prolonged cleanup job to rid the building of water.
  Arson Investigators Donald E. Brian and Glen Lucero quickly arrived and were investigating and photographing the areas of origin, as firefighters were dragging their hoselines from the building.  Suddenly, the large storage area of toner in plastic jugs erupted into a fireball which quickly spread flames throughout the building.  Firefighters immediately turned the sprinkler system back on and moved in with hoselines to attack the flames. 
  The fire was deep-seated inside the cartons of toner.  Additionally companies were called and Deputy Chief Albert L. Schultz also answered the greater alarm.  The flammable liquid floating atop the water in the smoke and fire-filled building gave off toxic vapors as did the burning plastic containers.  Firefighters who had virtually exhausted their breathing apparatus supply during initial knockdown operations quickly ran out of air and had to leave the building for fresh bottles.  Several dozen firefighters were felled by toxic vapors or chemical burns and were taken to hospitals buy rescue ambulances.
  Squad 39 firefighters reported to Schultz that one of  their members, Lynn R. Hazlett, was missing.  Schultz immediately ordered a search.  Hazlett's body was found near where one of the three fires had been set.  He apparently became disoriented in the smoke while trying to escape the building.  His air supply ran low and he collapsed and suffocated.  Hazlett, 42, was a 17-year-member of  the department.  He was survived by his wife, Susan and four stepchildren.  Mrs. Hazlett gave birth to his son, John Robert, a week after the fire.  On May 15, Local 112 announced another $10,000 reward for information on the Remington fire.
  This fire resulted in the first joint investigative effort by the LAFD's arson section, the Arson Task Force of the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, and the LAFD.  Harold F. Gere, 56, of Tarzana, owner of Remington Industries, told investigators he was attending a baseball game at Dodger Stadium at the time of the fire and first learned of it after he was paged over the public address system.  General Manager Martin W. Whiter, 47, of Woodland Hills, Gere's business partner, said he was playing poker with friends when the fire occurred.
  As investigators delved into the activities of the firm, they learned it was in series financial difficulty.  Among the problems was the cost of defending law suits filed by nationally-known companies which charged Remington with falsely-labeling office supplies with their band names.  Shortly before the fire, Remington management had substantially increased their fire insurance coverage to $2.4 million with Aetna Life & Casualty Company.
  Inventory records, moreover, showed that $240,000 in office supplies had been moved to another location prior to the fire.  Confirming that the building had to be forcibly entered by first-arriving firefighters, investigates concluded that someone with access to keys had entered the building, set the fire and locked up before leaving.  The alibis of Gere and Whiter checked out.  The only possible conclusion was that somebody had been hired to set the fire and had been provided with keys.
  After an intensive investigation, Gere and Whiter were arrested and charged with arson-homicide, two counts of fraud and aiding and abetting each other in hiring someone to set the fire.  During the federal court trial, a judicial ruling of insufficient evidence resulted in a directed verdict of acquittal of Whiter.  Gere was convicted.  U.S. District Court Judge William P. Gray sentenced him on November 10, 1980, to 10 years in federal prison.  Investigators believe a professional arsonist was hired to do the job, but he was never caught.


F225 to Bureau Commander,
Bureau of Fire Prevention & Rescue
May 14, 1979

Letter from Captain Dennis Grogan
May 13, 1979

The Conviction
The Conviction Overturned
The Court Case



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