L.A. fire officials file building code complaint after fatal blaze at Hollywood recording studios

Firefighters with their equipment on a sidewalk at the scene of a fire
An investigation is underway after one person killed in a fire at a Hollywood recording studio.

Los Angeles code enforcement authorities are investigating whether a Hollywood building where a fire broke out Thursday night, leaving one person dead and two injured, was approved for use as recording studios.

City Department of Building and Safety records show a complaint for “building or property converted to another use” was filed Friday and is pending scheduling.

Jeff Napier, chief inspector and spokesperson for the department, told The Times the complaint was filed by the Los Angeles Fire Department after Thursday’s blaze.

Jamal Davis describes to L.A. City Fire officials how he escaped the fire burning.
amal Davis, center, artist and CEO of U Ain’t Us Entertainment, who rents a studio space in a Hollywood industrial building, describes to L.A. City Fire officials how he escaped the fire burning in the building a day prior in Hollywood on Friday.
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

Fire crews responded to a call at the two-story building in the 6600 block of West Lexington Avenue about 5:40 p.m., according to the LAFD. It took nearly 80 firefighters about an hour to extinguish the blaze.

An unidentified man was found dead on the first floor of the building, officials said. The fire started on the first floor and spread to parts of the second floor, L.A. Fire Capt. Erik Scott said.

 Johnathan Wellman mourns the death of his friend.
Johnathan Wellman, 34, mourns the death of his friend and fellow artist after a fire at a recording studio in Hollywood on Friday.
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

Two people who escaped the fire were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation but declined to be taken to the hospital, authorities said.

Among those who escaped was 38-year-old Aimee Osbourne, one of rocker Ozzy Osbourne’s daughters.


She and her producer were working in the building when the fire broke out and were “the lucky two that made it out alive,” Sharon Osbourne, her mother, posted on Instagram. The producer was not identified in the post.

“It is utterly heartbreaking that someone lost their life today in this fire & we are sending our prayers to this person & their family,” Osbourne wrote.

Inspectors will look into whether the property owner obtained the proper permits and whether the building was approved for use as recording studios, Napier said.

Building records also show two closed complaints for the property.

The first, filed Oct. 18, 2017, was for having construction in progress without permits or inspections. Another complaint for the building or property being converted to another use was filed Oct. 4, 2018.

The prior complaints are related to the property’s use as an unlicensed hostel at the time, Napier said. The property owner eventually complied with city orders and gutted the building, returning it to its listed use as a warehouse, he said.

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A Yelp listing at the address of the fire called it the Time Zone Hostel Hollywood. The business’ website appears to have been taken down.


Reviewers on Yelp, meanwhile, complained of issues including bedbugs, noise and filth. Further information on the three code complaints wasn’t available Friday.

Los Angeles firefighters continue to investigate what caused the blaze.

Authorities have not released the name of the person who died, but people who worked in the building identified him as Nathan Avery Edwards, 26. Edwards recorded, produced and mixed music under the name Avery Drift, according to his friend Jonathan Wellman, who rented a recording space down the hall in the same building.

“A talented young artist, producer, engineer,” Wellman said in an interview with The Times on Friday morning. “He was a very promising talent.”

It’s unclear exactly where the fire started, but Wellman said it looked as though the flames were coming from the ceiling as he ran out of the building.

Jamal Davis said he first smelled smoke around 4 p.m. Thursday while he was working in his UaintUS recording studio. He said he asked his wife if she had burned incense earlier because the smell was so strong. After he began to see smoke wafting in the air, he said he went down the hall to knock on his neighbors’ doors.

“That’s when I got to the door where the smoke was coming out, about three or four doors from my space,” Davis said Friday morning. “The person who works out of that office started to try and open the door from the outside. He put his shoulder into it and when he hit it the devil’s fingers came out. The flames just leaped out.”


Wellman, 34, who runs the Gift Entertainment recording studio, said the unit where the fire apparently started was fully engulfed by the time the door opened and that no one could get close enough to try to put it out.

Both Davis and Wellman said no smoke detectors, fire alarms or sprinklers went off in the building Thursday.

“I was my own smoke detector,” Davis said. “I ran to my room and grabbed my stuff and left my door open, trying to call my cats out to follow me.”

Davis said he tried to cover his face with a piece of cloth to go back and rescue his four cats, but the smoke was too thick and someone pulled him out of the building. All of the cats perished.

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The building’s layout and interior construction made for a challenging firefight, Scott said, because the studios had significant amounts of insulation and double layers of drywall, which concentrated the heat.

“Our firefighters took a beating,” he said.

Davis said he never felt unsafe in the building until Thursday when he was running for his life. He said he was calling for his cats at the entrance of the building when he heard a woman cry for help from the second floor. It was Aimee Osbourne, who was with her producer, he said.


“I tried my best to tell them where I could see the fire, where it was moving and told them where to find the stairwell,” Davis said. “I was calling for my cats, and Aimee said she found the exit by listening to my voice.”

In her Instagram post, Sharon Osbourne called the experience “horrific.”

“I really hope moving forward that buildings like this are better regulated for fire safety,” she said. “This building was a creative hub for music in Hollywood, a space that should have been regulated for fire code.”

Several recording studios are listed as occupying the building. Sharon Osbourne said many of the artists who work out of the space lost their equipment.

“Once again, our prayers go out to the family and friends of the person that lost their life to this senseless fire,” Sharon Osbourne said in the Instagram post.