Calabasas Complex : Fire Destroys 13 Businesses

Times Staff Writer

An early-morning fire raced through a building in a Calabasas office complex Friday, destroying 13 businesses and causing more than $4 million in damage, fire officials said.

One official said the fire began after a party at a video distribution firm in the National Technical Systems building at 24007 Ventura Blvd. in the Calabasas Executive Park.

More than 160 Los Angeles county and city firefighters worked to extinguish the fire, which broke out at 1:15 a.m., said Capt. Gordon Pearson of the county Fire Department. The fire was contained at 2:30 a.m, but erupted again six hours later because of fire left burning beneath collapsed rubble, he said.

Firefighters were able to put down the fire again at about 10 a.m., Pearson said.


It was the most costly fire in the San Fernando Valley this year, said Pearson, “because so many companies had computers and technical equipment.” There were no injuries and the cause of the blaze is under investigation, he added.

County Fire Inspector Roy Talbot said the fire began at Top Stop Inc., a video distribution firm housed in the two-story building.

Pearson said fire officials were told that there had been an “after-hours party” at Top Stop Thursday evening. He said the information came from two night employees of a computer firm who fled when they felt heat coming through the walls of their office.

John Rosenfeld of Sherman Oaks, who described himself as one of the principals of Top Stop, said the company held an open house for its customers Thursday afternoon from 2 to 9 p.m. When the open house ended, five employees continued to work at the office until midnight, but there was no one present when the fire began, he said.


‘We’ve Lost Everything’

Rosenfeld said Top Stop moved into the complex in April and had recently finished decorating its offices. “We’ve lost everything, about $160,000 worth in inventory and computers,” he said as he surveyed the wreckage.

Another tenant, Rubin Gottesman of the Xcitement Video Company, said he hoped to be back in business Monday.

“I’m going to move down the street,” he said, as he watched employees load boxes of sexually-oriented videocassettes into a truck.


Eleven other tenants lease space in the 8-month-old Calabasas office building.

Will Relocate Tenants

Don Bell of Brentwood, one of the owners of the building, said he and his partners will try to relocate tenants to nearby offices they own.

“Moving out our tenants is the main concern. You can always replace the building,” he said.


Bell said the building was completely leased and that his company planned to start rebuilding in a week or two.