Space heater sparks Mid-City hotel fire that kills 1, sends 5 to the hospital

Two LAFD arson investigators examine a charred room at the Venice Hotel.
LAFD arson investigators examine a charred room at the Venice Hotel, which was gutted in an early morning fire in Los Angeles.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A space heater sparked a fire at a hotel in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles early Friday that killed one person and sent five others to a hospital, authorities said.

The blaze was reported just after 2 a.m. at the Venice Hotel, 8686 Venice Blvd., according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

“We had heavy fire in one second-floor unit, and very quickly thereafter, flames spread to other parts of the building,” department spokesman Brian Humphrey said. “We made an aggressive attack on the fire and encountered several people who needed rescue as we did.”


People were breaking out windows in an effort to escape the flames, fire officials said.

One man — identified by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office as Paul Bisland, 62, of Los Angeles — was pronounced dead at the scene. A man and a woman were taken to a hospital in grave condition — meaning they were not breathing and did not have a pulse, Humphrey said — but their conditions were later upgraded to serious, according to the Fire Department.

Two other men, one in critical condition and the other in fair condition, also were taken to a hospital. A fifth person later went to a hospital by private vehicle, LAFD spokesman Nicholas Prange said. One other person was evaluated for injury at the scene but declined to be taken to a hospital.

A firefighter also was being evaluated for a respiratory issue that did not appear to be life-threatening, according to the department.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames at 2:43 a.m., and investigators have “determined the cause to be accidental, due to a space heater coming too close to combustible materials,” Prange said.

Humphrey said the hotel has at least 28 units on two floors and is home to some long-term residents.

“We have at least two dozen people who have been displaced by the fire,” he said, and the American Red Cross has been called to assist them.

 Venice Hotel Fire
One person was killed and others hospitalized by a fire at the Venice Hotel, which is home to some long-term residents.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

One man staying at the hotel told KTLA-TV Channel 5 that he tried to rouse his neighbors when he saw the fire.

“I started knocking on everybody’s door — one side to the other, one side to the other — yelling, ‘Fire!’ ” Tamul Khalfani told the station. “People didn’t believe me, but I kept yelling and knocking on people’s doors. ... By the time they came out, the fire had spread all through the hallway like a tinderbox.”