House Fire on Matilija Avenue: Owner says Christmas Tree was Burning

Fire Captain on scene says "it wasn't a big fire, but the house was torn up pretty badly inside."


A firefighter was slightly injured today in a blaze at a Sherman Oaks home today that spread to the attic, where it burned for more than an hour, a city fire official said.

The fire was reported at 7:09 p.m. at 5049 N. Matilija Ave., said Matt Spence of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Rescuers arriving at the location initially reported flames in one room on the second floor of the home, but an hour later the blaze had extended into the attic and additional resources were being requested, Spence said.

Around 7:45 p.m., Spence said firefighters were "making good progress,'' and the blaze was under control about 25 minutes later. One firefighter was taken to a hospital with minor injuries as a result of the firefight, Spence said.

Although a Christmas tree was seen on fire by residents of the home, the cause of the fire was still undetermined at the time.

Patch was at the scene, and saw several LAFD fire engines, rescue ambulances and large ladder trucks parked up and down Matilija Avenue, with a dozen or so firefighters amassed on the front lawn and driveway of the large two-story home. Neighbors gathered on the lawns of the homes across the street to watch the commotion. The fire was finally extinguished, and a firefighter was treated by paramedics in front of the affected home. 

One man, who only wanted to be known as "a neighbor," said he called 911 for the family that ran out of the burning home. "I heard knocking on my front door. But with the recent just down the street, I was hesitant to answer." The man soon learned it was his neighbor across the street, opened the door and called 911. "I'd like to know that my neighbors would answer the door if my house was on fire." The man said that the flames were quite visible from across the street as it was burning.

Patch observed a visibly distraught group standing in the street beside a fire truck, in front of the burned residence. A man calmly identified himself as the owner of the residence. He stood by his family and kept his gaze on the house, even though the fire was already out. His wife and daughters embraced him and each other; one daughter was crying and he hugged her in his arms.

Art Satanyan, the owner of the house, told Sherman Oaks Patch that he discovered the fire burning in the house when the smoke alarm went off. He said he was watching television in a room near the back of the house when he heard it, and rushed to get his whole family outside.

Satanyan said he saw the Christmas tree on fire, which was situated in the large room in the middle of the house, near the staircase. "I was so confused," Satanyan said, then his voice grew more excited,  "I saw the fire burning- but I really wanted to make sure nobody was still inside." Satanyan said the whole family of five was able to escape out the back doors of the home, and then out to the street through a gate next to the garage.

The family had planned an Armenian Christmas celebration with relatives and friends inside the very home at 9 p.m. but the fire changed all that. Some relatives arrived early and solemnly stood by the family. 

LAFD Station 89's captain told Sherman Oaks Patch, "it wasn't a big fire, but the house was torn up pretty badly inside." He noted the extensive damage from the dark smoke, and the stubborn flames. 

Satanyan said the family has lived there for about three years. "I built that home," he said.

-City News Service contributed to this article.


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