Susan Orlean looks into L.A. Central Library fire
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Writer Susan Orlean dives into the never solved L.A. Central Library fire

Susan Orlean has an upcoming book about the L.A.  Public Library and the mysteries surrounding the devastating 1986 fire at the Central Library. She displays a book that was damaged in the fire.

 (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Susan Orlean is photographed in the Central Library’s second-floor rotunda. Above her is the bronze Zodiac Chandelier.

 (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Susan Orlean visits the Central Library’s second floor, with the rotunda above her.

 (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Susan Orlean pauses in the arts and music section at the Los Angeles Central Library.

 

 (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Firefighters battle a blaze at the L.A. Central Library downtown on April 29, 1986.

 (Jack Gaunt / Los Angeles Times)

Smoke billows from the Los Angeles Central Library during the blaze that raged out of control for hours on April 29, 1986.

 

 (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Fire Capt. Don Stukey probes damage after the devastating fire at the L.A. Central Library in 1986.

 (Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times)

Smoke billows from the Los Angeles Central Library.

 (Larry Bessel)

Harry Peak, who claimed he’d set the fire at the Los Angeles Central Library and then disavowed that claim, emerges from jail after the district attorney declined to file charges against him in 1987.

 (Jack Gaunt / Los Angeles Times)

A worker takes in the scene of damaged and destroyed books piled in the fiction room of the Los Angeles Central Library after a massive fire on April 29, 1986.

 (Mel Melcon)

On May 3, 1986, Adolfo Ramirez and Victor Davis carry empty boxes to be filled with works to be saved after the fire at the Central Library.

 (Mel Melcon)

The interior of the rotunda of the Los Angeles Central Library on Nov. 12, 1986,  during renovation after the fire.

 (Iris Schneider)

Water–damaged books from the Los Angeles Central Library are lowered into a huge vaccuum chamber at the McDonnell Douglas Astronautic Co. plant in Huntington Beach on May 12, 1986. The boxed books, which had been in cold storage since the library fire to prevent mildew, were thawed and eventually dried in the chamber, which is normally used to test space satellites.

 (Kari Rene Hall)
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