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Long Beach police rescue pair from burning apartment

Long Beach police rescue pair from burning apartment
Pat Lynch with the American Red Cross Disaster Team Leader helps one of the displaced residents to gather her belongings from the Fairmont Apartments in Long Beach after a fire destroyed one of the units. Police officers rescued a man and woman from the burning apartment by prying security bars off with a wooden post. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Long Beach police saved two people from a burning apartment Thursday morning as smoke and flames overtook the building, authorities said.

The blaze was reported about 1 a.m. in the 400 block of Chestnut Avenue by residents who flagged down officers on patrol, said Jake Heflin, a spokesman for the Long Beach Fire Department.

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Thousands of people have been without power since Wednesday afternoon when a series of underground electrical vaults operated by Southern California Edison caught fire, triggering explosions that sent manhole covers flying into the air.

The outage triggered increased police patrols overnight, which is how residents were able to find the officers so quickly, Heflin told KTLA-TV.

The residents led officers to the backside of a 20-unit apartment building, where a couple were apparently trapped and screaming for help, witnesses told local media.

The officers pried back metal security bars on a window and pulled the couple to safety, Heflin said.

The officers weren't hurt and were released by paramedics at the scene. The rescued couple was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, Heflin said.

The investigation into the fire is ongoing.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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