First published in the Nov. 5 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Burbank Police Department officers rescued three children from a Grismer Avenue apartment fire early Wednesday morning, leading to their parent’s arrest. The children — ages 3, 5 and 6 — were locked in a bedroom when the building caught fire.
The BPD was first to arrive at the scene at about 2:15 a.m. after receiving several reports of an apartment fire with children trapped inside. The officers quickly entered the locked apartment where they were overcome by thick black smoke and could hear children screaming for help, according to police reports. They made their way through the apartment and came upon a locked bedroom door.
They forced the bedroom door open, picked up the three children, and exited the apartment, rescuing all three.
“The actions of our officers in the early morning hours of Nov. 2nd could not be described as anything less than heroic,” Captain Adam Cornils, commanding officer of BPD’s Patrol Division, told the Leader. “Three young children are alive today because in the moment of crisis, these officers did not hesitate.”
The children were transported to a hospital for further medical evaluation and treatment. Their injuries were determined not to be life-threatening.
Firefighters managed to douse the burning apartment by 2:30 a.m., though the cause of the fire is still being investigated.
The parents of the children told law enforcement that they had locked the children in the bedroom and walked to a local convenience store.
They were both arrested and booked for felony child neglect and are being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
“As a result of [the officers’] courageous efforts, all three children were rescued with minimal injuries. The officers all suffered injuries from smoke inhalation and are recovering. We are grateful that they are all expected to fully recover in a short period of time,” Cornils said.
When officers arrived, they saw smoke coming from a unit on the second story and were told by neighbors that children were trapped inside.
“They quickly recognized that innocent lives were in immediate jeopardy,” Cornils said. “There was no time to wait for additional resources in order to ensure their own safety. The imminent peril was clear. These officers prioritized the lives of three young children over their own, and took immediate action.”
The parents were not found inside the apartment.
Formal charges against the parents of the children are pending review by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Their arraignment hearing was scheduled for Friday, Nov. 4; after the Leader’s press deadline.
“I cannot overemphasize the importance of these officers’ actions,” Cornils said. “They took action at considerable risk to themselves. Each of them stands as a shining example of law enforcement officers’ dedication to the safety of the communities we serve.”