The Echo Park house fire that injured five and killed one on Saturday took the life of a familiar face in the Los Angeles music scene.
According to reports from survivors of the fire, Sammy Winston died after returning to the building in the 800 block of Alvarado Street in an effort to rescue his roommates. Five people were injured, including a firefighter who responded to the blaze in a converted attic apartment.
Winston was well known in the Echo Park music and culture scenes. He was a regular doorman at The Echo and a poet who read at venues such as Stories Cafe. Two of the roommates he saved, Wrecks Brixton and B.G. Brixton, are members of the local band The Groms.
The Echo posted on July 5, "Yesterday we lost our friend Sammy, who gave his life to save those of BG Brixton, Wrecks Brixton and others from a horrible fire. The magnitude of the loss is too big to share online, but it's a start to say that their values form the pillars that give our community of friends, artists, punks, romantics, free spirits and true hearts strength."
Kevin Bronson, editor of the L.A. music site Buzzbands.LA (and a former L.A. Times staffer), said that at heart Winston "was a Beat writer who worked the door." Bronson added that Winston's poetry reading during last year's Echo Park Rising festival "stopped me in my tracks, and his chapbook I bought that day is filled with the kind of prose you only create by fearlessly popping open a vein."
Wrecks Brixton told CBS that without Winston's help to get out, "I would not be here at all. I wouldn't have woken up. It took about 20 seconds for me to get out of the house, and in that 20 seconds, the entire house was gone."
Various fundraisers have been set up to help Winston's family and the fire's survivors. Area stores, including Origami Vinyl, Permanent Records and Lolipop Records, are planning benefit shows and fundraisers.