Fire damages Elysian Heights home

Fire trucks and crews had to squeeze their way through narrow hillside streets this afternoon to battle a blaze that broke out in a three-story home at the top of Elysian Heights, where residents hosed down yards in an area dense with homes, brush and trees. Fire trucks and private vehicles clogged the streets, making it difficult to gain access to the fire that was reported  at about 1:45 p.m. in the 1600 block of Landa Street. “It was a challenge getting units in place,” said LAFD Battalion Chief Rudy Hill. No injuries had been reported and the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

The fire appeared to be out by about 2 p.m. but smoke continued to pour of the home and flames continue to burn on one side of the shingled structure on Landa Street, which is barely wide enough to accommodate some of the department’s 10-foot wide fire trucks.

With limited access, some of the fire crews ran hoses downhill from Echo Park Avenue while an unpaved section of Landa Street off Stadium Way was opened to allow fire trucks to get to the scene from below.

Gene Levitansky, who lives next door to the fire-damaged house, said residents of the secluded neighborhood filled with century-old bungalows overlooking the 5 Freeway had waged a long campaign to get Landa Street paved about six years to improve access. “It’s not easy to get a [fire] truck up here,” he said.


  1. It’s tragic anytime there is a fire in someone’s home. A friend lost a home to fire on the same stretch of Landa many years ago. The LAFD does an outstanding job of deploying engines all over the hillside neighborhood because we run the risk of an Oakland Hills type fire whenever we have have fire. I watched engines go up the nearby hills, and wondered exactly where this fire was. (Thank you Eastsider!)

    At the risk of sounding callous, it’s time to reconsider small lot subdivision – our narrow Hillside streets were never designed for the number of units or cars we have now, let alone increasing the density to cram in more people and cars. If anything, the Hillside neighborhoods should be downzoned, particularly the ones that have no parking on Red Flag Days.

    • The city should remove street parking so people can start using their driveways and garages for their whole purpose, parking cars. Street problem instantly solved. Or create red flag parking days where this goes into effect.

      Can you give some type of study showing that the hillsides were never meant for the number of units currently built there? I am more curious as I know certain pockets of areas in LA seem to have people complaining but nothing ever gets done to resolve the problem.

      • These old hillside houses were built before most people had cars. They don’t have driveways because and very few have garages. There is no other place to park but the street. This is not the suburbs.

  2. Yes, not a good place to live if you have an aversion to being burned out and maybe dying in a fire. That whole hillside could go up in flames in a instant — but luckily it did not this time. But frankly, its amazing there hasn’t been a catastrophe there over the years — such is overdue, unfortunately.

    It can be nice to live there, but with that kind of danger, I personally would not pay much of anything to buy a place there — just doesn’t seem to be sensible, too dangerous.

  3. Lived here since ’67 , thankfully there has never been a catastrophic fire up here , and the LAFD has always been amazing at keeping the fire damage contained to the structure it is confined to .
    There is danger everywhere. People buy multi-million dollar homes in Malibu that face the ocean and its wrath .
    When Landa was open all the way to Stadium Way , it was an awesome dirt road short cut to the 5 .

  4. Landa used to open all the way to Stadium Way? When did that close? Was it because of Dodger Stadium?

    • I want to say close to 20 years ago–the commuters were making crazed 1-lane banzai runs to the 5 freeway, oh and the Hillside Strangler dumped a body down there too.

      • you could’ve kept the last part to yourself, LOL … thanks Echo!

      • I was going through the LA library photo archive & found a picture of a body the hillside strangler dumped at the top of Fargo at Allesandro,. Actually that lot just went up for sale.

        • You are wrong , the lot for sale where the body was found is on Alvarado .
          I remember that like it was yesterday . It was awful .

          • My memory is that the body found on Alvarado close to the top of Fargo was one of the Hillside Strangler murders. I believe there was another body dumped off Landa to the east of Echo Park Avenue. I think this case was not related to the Hillside Stranger. I guess I never knew precisely why the city put a locked gate at the lower end of Landa but I do know that aside from bodies people used to discard mattresses and other large pieces of furniture along there. I could somewhat see why blocking the road would help reduce problems on Landa but I also wondered if this wasn’t creating a dangerous situation for residents trying to escape a fire.

          • you’re right, I meant Alvarado.

        • Landa was open from Echo Park to Stadium Way at least through 1985. My dad (an LASD sergeant at the time) and I were driving down that section of Landa leaving the Dodger game when the news broke about identifying Richard Ramirez as the Night Stalker. That was Aug. 30, 1985.

      • We used the Landa dirt road to Stadium Way , but we never drove “crazed “. No one was that much in a hurry like they are now . Plus the road did not allow anyone to drive crazed , you really had to take it slow to make some of those turns .

  5. Hey Eastsider. Thanks for the report. Any news on how the fire started? My house is only 100 feet away from the house that burned.

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