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Pico-Robertson Fire Possibly Sparked By Drug Operation

A fire partly destroyed a commercial building in the Pico-Robertson area Friday, and crews found evidence of a possible drug operation.


LOS ANGELES, CA — A greater-alarm fire broke out Friday at or near a possible drug operation inside a commercial building in the Pico-Robertson area, and firefighters went into a defensive mode and prevented the flames from spreading to other structures, a spokeswoman said.

The fire at 9041 Pico Blvd. was reported about 11:30 a.m., according to Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department, who said investigators found evidence of “a possible drug operation in the structure.”

The type of building that burned was not immediately clear, but reports from the scene indicated it appeared to be for lease.

The blaze was difficult to fight. Firefighters had to contend with downed wires, and Stewart said there were “numerous windows with bars and closed doors which need to be opened for entry/exit needs.”

By early in the afternoon, the roof of the building had partially collapsed, and firefighters went into a defensive mode, pouring water onto the outside of the structure. Shortly before 2 p.m., Stewart said a firefighter had been taken to a hospital with a “non-life-threatening heat-related illness.”

It took 115 firefighters about two hours and 15 minutes to fully extinguish the blaze, Stewart said.

“There is a single-family dwelling to the rear of the fire building with an elderly couple at home,” she said. “A rescue ambulance stayed with the couple and sheltered inside their home to ensure they were safe from any smoke exposure. There was no fire risk to the structure, but extra caution was taken to ensure their well-being due to smoke. No smoke was present in the home and the couple did not require medical care.”

She said three nearby cars were covered with tarps to protect them from being dinged or damaged.

Area resident Shlomo Walt told the Jewish Journal the mixed commercial/apartment building that caught fire used to house the nonprofit charity organization Tomchei Shabbos, and was the original location of the Pico Shul.

Rabbi Chaim Cunin, CEO of Chabad of California, told the Journal the Chabad school was housed in the building until 2004.

  • I was at the scene and photographed a tell tale sign of possible drug operations — right in plain sight. If you can send me an Email contact, I’ll forward it for your follow-up.