House fire breaks out on Echo Park hilltop*

Photo by Mary-Austin Klein

Photo by Beth Zeigler

More than 150 firefighters assisted by a water-dropping helicopters battled a blaze early this evening that severely damaged the Echo Park hilltop home of a former film and TV actress and sent a thick column of smoke across the sky. The fire ignited live ammunition inside the house in the 1400 block of Elysian Park Drive   near Douglas Street and threatened to spread to nearby brush, according to fire department officials. But the blaze that began at about 6 p.m. was extinguished before it spread to other homes and apartment buildings only a few feet away.  No injuries were reported.

Estefan Bravo, 48, said the two-story home is owned by his mother, Ann Robinson, who co-starred in the science fiction classic War of the Worlds.  He said his mother was not injured.

A neighbor, Lou Becker, said the fire appeared to start in the rear yard of the house. He said one man was attempting to put out the fire with an extinguisher before the blaze got out of hand. “It just got too big, too fast,” he said.

LAFD Battalion Chief Fred Mathis said investigators are trying to determine what caused the blaze, which caused extensive damage to the home.  Mathis, on the LAFD blog, said the location of the home on a narrow street made it difficult to reach the blaze:

There was one way in and out. After the first apparatus arrived, all those following had to stack one behind the other downhill. This required some firefighters to carry gear up a 1/4 mile, then back again to exchange air bottles. It was a tough location. They did a great job!”

Click on the link below to see more fire photos.

Photo by Gregory C.

Water-dropping helicopter was called in to assist firefighters on the ground. Photo by Brett Service

Smoke poured north over Elysian Park. Photo by Brett Service

Fire trucks filled narrow Elysian Park Drive and Douglas Street. Photo by Barry O”Donnell

A string of fire trucks and hoses ran down Douglas Street. Photo by Scott Fajack

Firefighters walk past flag that hung from carport in front of the damaged home. Photo by Scott Fajack.

* This story has been updated from earlier versions.


  1. I could hear the structure popping because of the fire on the other side of Sunset. Scary sound.

    I hope everyone over there is safe.

    And thank you to the eastsider for reporting on incidents like this.

  2. Bummer last week it rained and now so hot. Fire season.
    I hope that everyone is OK!

  3. The popping was ammo.

  4. Just talked to Peter who lives down the street. It was Ann’s house and it burned to the ground. Luckily everyone is okay!!! For everyone who walks on the trails – the big dog is safe – he is not sure about the little dog.

  5. I live 15 feet from that house in an apartment building- and can assure you the popping was ammo… thousands of rounds.. A couple of neighbors and I were the ones using out buildings fire hoses to keep the fire from spreading. The fire Captain on scene told us that when the ammo starting popping off we were the only 2 hoses on the fire ( the firefighters sought cover) and we certainly kept the fire from consuming the 25 unit building we live in…………………. NOT how I planned on spending my Wednesday- but at least I still have a home to come back to. The house is a total loss………..

  6. chris- i would say you are a hero

  7. I live in the same building as Chris. Just wanted to say thanks to him and the other neighbors that helped out and of course the LAFD!

  8. Thanks- but I am more grateful that I have
    a place to sleep tonight! 🙂

  9. about the little dog I heard from firefighters on the scene that the lil guy didnt make it what a loss for the people of echo park we will sure miss u lil pup

  10. Chris! Glad you counted the ammo! I probably would have stopped counting at ninety-nine!

  11. I didn’t so much count it as estimate- from the fact that multiple rounds were going off every 10 seconds for 10-15 minutes that it was thousands…..plus I know the guy who owns the house and he is a big 2nd amendment fan!

  12. Yes I heard the rounds (sounded like thousands) and thought at first it was a string of fire crackers. But it never ended and within 5 minutes the house was completely engulfed. Thank you for your valiant efforts. I am glad someone was home to get animals out too.

  13. Seeing a neighbor lose a house to a fire is a horrible thing- but knowing that their loud untrained dog that barks every time a leaf falls from a tree in the park is going to have to find a new place to live is not so bad. Just my luck they will probably tie the poor mutt to a fence post and leave him to guard the ruins….. there are still 5 trucks and about 15 fire fighters here making sure the fire is completely out– the house is so hidden its hard to tell exactly how bad it is visually- but one fire fighter just told me “there is nothing left”
    very sad… channel 9 just ran a story on it with a live reporter….. I am tempted to go down for her 11 pm broadcast and yell BABA BOOEY BABA BOOEY……. but I have had a hell of a long night!

  14. The whole event is tragic. For the family who lost their long time residence. years of memories and a beloved pet; my condolences. In the 10+ years of walking by this overgrown private compound with the barking dogs, the large American flag hung on the carport, the security light that never turns off, the voice of a never- seen woman yelling at the dogs to shut up, I saw it as an example of what I love about Echo Park’s funky neighborhoods. It probably was hard to live right next door to them in the apartments but honestly, there seems to be worse barking dog issues within that complex. It is something to marvel at every time I walk by.

  15. Whats with tons of ammo though? It went on forever

  16. chris. you i don’t think you are a very good person. very tacky comments.

  17. All that ammo sounds VERY worrisome that it would even be allowed in a residential zone. Frankly, it is surprising people were not killed by that. Gee, it makes it sound like the place was a secret hideout for some very bad people. NO ONE needs that amount of ammo. If you have guns for protection or for recreation at a shooting range, a SMALL amount of ammo on hand might be reasonable, but nothing on the order of what is reported at this location.

    I’m not making any accusation, but I do think police should do a serious investigation of that and find out what all that ammo was about. In fact, what was the cause of the fire — did it have something to do with the ammo or maybe some stored explosives?

  18. What started the fire?

  19. I assume Tim has never bought TP in bulk at Costco.

  20. SCREAM- you are entitled to your opinion….. as wrong as I think it may be.

    Josh– the fire started in the back yard and quickly spread to the house…… the owner of the house was heard saying that sometimes neighbors on the Douglas street side ( NOT the building I live in) throw cigarette butts over the fence into his yard– but the fire investigators on scene said that is highly unlikely and they will be finding out what caused it

    Tim—- Get a freaking clue. It is not against the law to own guns- or have as much ammo as you want for those guns- much less to keep it on your own property

    If you want to live somewhere like that- I will gladly make the first first donation to the MOVE TIM’S LAME ASS TO IRAN fund………..

    When the firemen showed up- one of the first things the owner told them was that he has a room with a lot of ammunition in it that he was trying to prevent from burning.
    Once the bullets started flying the firemen evacuated the area until the ammo was spent- and then returned to fight the fire.

    I don’t know about where YOU live Tim– but most of the people I know have firearms- and the ammunition for them- in their houses and apartments- so the fact that a home owner in a neighborhood that used to be a lot worse than it is now has ammunition on HIS property.

    When the house caught on fire- the ammo was going off into the containers that held it- and any bullets that got out where hitting the walls of the room they were stored in. I was standing right next to the house- behind a wooden fence with absolutely no fear of being hit by any rounds— 25 feet from the fire… I was more concerned with making sure the considerable amount of brush in the area didn’t ignite than I was about being “shot”

    He had ammo for pistols and rifles– Not anti-tank guns RPG’s or anti-aircraft rockets…… seriously man… Read the constitution ………

  21. Chris, easy kid. You can understand someone being concerned about stored ammo going off in a house fire in their neighborhood — the constitution and a little hysteria notwithstanding. No need to beat anybody over the head with the threat of Iranian exile. I know Val, the owner of those particular stores of ammo. He knows how to store the stuff, thank god. Not everyone’s neighbor is that responsible.

  22. The after effects of the fire were devastating: the house is a total loss. Very sad. I hope it is not true that the home insurance had lapsed.

    Ammunition exploding from the extreme heat would not normally project bullet rounds out like a fired round; without the gun barrel, the blackpowder within each round simply explodes out, and the bullet rounds topple over. LAPD was called to the scene and discovered large stored amounts of blackpowder for reloading (Val said he forgot he still had it, he hadn’t reloaded in 15+ years). That was a risk to firefighters on scene (read: kaboom!), as were the loaded guns (Val believed they were unloaded, but LAPD inspected and rendered safe many loaded rifles).

    At the end of the incident, the weapons and ammunition were less a barrier for the firefighters than the narrow roads that lead to the house. Hopefully this is improved before another emergency occurs.

  23. My condolences to Ann and her family. So many great memories lost, Long time ago before most of you even moved over here, she used to turn that lovely Home into a Haunted House for all the kids and family members to come and enjoy. She would give out candy and even the News cast would come and report on the great Haunted House. I don’t appreciate some of the comments you guys are leaving regarding the “Big Barking Dog” and the “Screaming Lady”. Apparently you people used to live right next to her, And never learned to be good tolerant neighbors. I mean C’mon! as opposed to living next to some people that get drunk, scream at each other and then start boxing each other almost every other night… You guys had it good!, You didn’t know Anne, So please quit your “Bitching” this isn’t ABOUT YOU. She just lost herself a Life-time of memories, Including all her Movie memorabilia… and I hope all the comments about the little dog being dead are also false =(…

  24. I live on the other side of the house, about 10 feet from the fire. They are lovely, lovely people. To make a comment on how nice it will be to not hear the barking dog anymore is incredibly egocentric and astounding. This family has been a major staple in our neighborhood for over 45 years and to find such a selfish “pro” to the devastation that they have had to end and will have to keep enduring is very sad.
    This was a terrifying fire and I hope that no one will have to experience this themselves, barking dogs or not.

  25. The lady is always yelling at husband or someone when I pass by walking my dog. It’s a daily ritual. The younger guy seems nice hope he isn’t the one getting yelled at like that!

  26. Lilac Terrace- I think you misunderstood my comment about the unseen voice regarding the dogs barking as I walked by. It wasn’t a complaint or intended as an insult. The house, the mysterious occupants and the dogs all were something that gave me joy as I passed by over the years. When I saw it was their home on fire yesterday it brought me to tears, knowing that their place of refuge was being destroyed by the flames. No negativity was meant in any way. I feel badly if my comment was seen as such.

  27. I have lived next door to Anne and her family for 19 years….. and I think they are wonderful people. I do think that the fact they haven’t trained their dog- and sometimes even seemed to encourage its barking for the sake of security- was really hard to live next to- but it’s their property- their dog- ( his name is COCO by the way) so it is their rules.
    I do not feel badly I am happy that- at least for the meantime- there is NOT going to be an untrained dog barking all hours of the day and night 20 feet from my head when I am trying to sleep-NOR ARE MY NEIGHBORS- but we all are VERY sad as to the reason why this has come to pass.
    So- Lilac Terrace- I am not going to apologize for my comments- because I have done or typed nothing to be sorry for. I am – however- going to suggest you “take the stick out” and relax a bit. No one is anything other than sympathetic for the family- and I was even over a couple of times today to see if I could offer help- supplies or errand running to help them do what you have to do when something like this happens. Were you?

  28. Yeah you need all those guns and ammo because you never know when the King of England is gonna come and start pushing you around! Long live the 2nd amendment!!

  29. I agree with Tim about concern for THAT MANY guns and ammo. That does not at all sound like some normal amount of personal ownership for protection against crime or recreational shooting. A room full of gums and ammo, wow. Sounds like a munitions depot for WWIII — or an Al Queda storage ground.

    And Chris, Tim never suggested it was illegal or unconstitutional. He suggested that much ammo and guns was dangerous and highly questionable — and it is.

  30. @Chris, actually a dog owner is not allowed to have a dog barking constantly in a neighborhood. There are noise ordinances that they are violating and they can be cited and fined by animal control. Sound waves dont stop at the property line.

  31. I agree Skr— but contrary to what some people on this thread think- I’m not a bad person– and I think it would take a bad person ( with a lot of time on their hands) to try to get the city involved in removing someone’s pet from their home– even an annoying pet that is totally out of control barking wise. IF the dog was dangerous- I would feel differently though

  32. Ammo storage – Los Angeles Fire Code (as of 2004) states that amounts of ammo not to exceed 500 pounds can be stored inside any safe and secure location (read: house = okay). Gun powder raises more of an eyebrow as a safety issue since it’s more heavily regulated. In either event, 500 pounds (not rounds) of ammo is legal folks – that dwarfs my little brick of 22LR. Very sad to hear of any loss to someone’s home.

  33. @Chris, a barking nuisance is a fineable offense I don’t believe they remove the dog. They first get a warning and 15 days the correct the problem. That doesn’t seem unreasonable or meanspirited to me. It also only takes a little bit of time to send off a letter to the local shelter to file a complaint. I think the meanspirited person is the neighbor that refuses to correct the problem even after neighbors have politely asked that they properly train their dog.

  34. Endlessly barking dogs really suck. The message they send is that their owners hate everyone else, don’t care, can’t be bothered to be decent and civilized. That’s the message, I hate you.
    Anyone whose peace is disturbed has a right to enforce the codes and laws designed to protect them. Dog owners, if you don’t want to be fined, have some common sense and decency and train your dog (or don’t own one).

  35. I am Ann’s son and I flew out from New Jersey to help with the fire clean up. Regarding the barking dogs, I agree yes they do bark a lot. BUT, I noticed they only started barking when other people were walking their dogs up and down Elysian Park Drive and when I was there, that was many, many times a day. In fact, some dog walkers were walking 6 – 8 dogs at a time.

    So please tell me, how can you stop a dog from barking at another dog that is walking in front of the house, hidden from their view but they know they are there? Other than those times, I never observed the dogs barking indiscriminately, except the few times little Sweety would bark at me.

  36. I am an old friend and musician of Anne’s son Estephan. I just found out about this years after the fact. I was saddened to hear the news. i spent many a good times in their home..and have great memories. Folks. This family just lost their home and several of you are bickering over a dog? Really? How shallow is that? Jaime…I met you a few times…great guy..sorry for your loss…but you need not explain to these ignorant people about your dog.. There’s a much larger picture here. God. Really? A barking dog? Sorry Anne. I hope your doing ok now. How unfortunate,…..but hopefully your all doing well.

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