Smoke from party in City Council office triggers City Hall evacuation

Los Angeles City Council member Nury Martinez, who represents the central San Fernando Valley, is shown during a city council session in September.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Workers at Los Angeles City Hall were briefly evacuated Tuesday afternoon after a party in City Councilwoman Nury Martinez’s office set off a smoke alarm.

The exact cause of the false alarm was not clear.

Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Edward Petterez, whose division handles City Hall security, said the alarm was apparently triggered by a smoke machine at Martinez’s party, which had a D.J., dance music and flashing lights.

Martinez disputed that, saying the alarm was set off by a burner under a container of tamales.


“It was the food,” she told a Times reporter.

Evacuations aren’t unusual at City Hall, where police occasional find an unattended briefcase or package and take no chances.

Scores of employees were instructed to leave the building, crowding the sidewalks along Spring Street and Main until security identified the cause of the alarm.