Firefighter Lynn R. Hazlett
PUBLIC SERVICE UNIT
200 NORTH MAIN STREET
INSPECTOR WILLIS MARTIN
LOS ANGELES, CA 90012
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
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
Firefighter Lynn R. Hazlett
Squad Company No. 39 "A" Platoon
ONE FIREFIGHTER KILLED, FOURTEEN INJURED IN
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.
Los Angeles Times
MONDAY, MAY 14, 1979
10 MAJOR BLAZES ERUPT;
FIREMAN DIES, 32 INJURED
BY ALAN MALTUN
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
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
MAJOR FIRES ERUPT IN L.A.
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
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
--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.
THE ACME SUPPLY & RIBBON & REMINGTON INDUSTRIES FIRE
by Paul Ditzel
"A Century of Service”
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
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
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
Bureau of Fire Prevention
May 14, 1979
Letter from Captain Dennis Grogan
May 13, 1979
The Conviction Overturned
The Court Case