A fire that scorched a tiny Pacoima house before dawn Saturday displaced 21 people, including nine adults and a dozen children.
The fire broke out about 5 a.m. at the back end of the 1,000-square-foot house on Kelowna Street, officials said. It took 44 firefighters roughly half an hour to extinguish the blaze.
Firefighters searched the single-story structure and ensured that everyone was outside. None of the residents were injured, said Erik Scott, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
"It was very fortunate," he said. "The firefighters made a very aggressive attack."
Even a feline member of the family escaped unharmed, later returning to perch atop a bed inside the burned house, Scott said from the scene on Saturday morning. A pet dog also was unharmed.
Scott said the fire department was working with the American Red Cross to find temporary housing for the residents, including the children who range in age from 1 to 16.
To escape the cold the displaced residents were taken to a nearby fire station, given blankets, hot coffee and doughnuts. Some family members later returned to the home with firefighters to salvage what they could of their belongings, Scott said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The house did not have any functional smoke alarms, Scott said. After the blaze, firefighters spent part of Saturday canvassing the neighborhood and handing out free alarms to residents.
The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety was also on the scene Saturday after the fire was extinguished, red tagging the building because of the structural damage it had suffered.
The house had been previously deemed "substandard" for illegally using some detached structures as a living area and for unpermitted construction at the rear of the house, according to the city's building department website. However, the owner fixed those violations nearly a year ago, according to Building and Safety executive officer Frank Bush.