Los Angeles, CA

Overheated generator smoking in L.A. Central Library on anniversary of 1986 library fire


Man holding back library bookPhoto by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

At around 8 am on Thursday, firefighters responded to a report of a building fire at the Los Angeles Central Library.

Haziness and smoke filtered onto the street outside as firefighters entered the building to investigate the origin of the smoke.

The firefighters found that the source of smoke was an overheating generator.

No one was injured in the incident.

The library continued in its ordinary pandemic processes, which meant no in-person services were available regardless of the smoke and haze.

The Los Angeles Library Fire

In an odd coincidence, Thursday was also the 35th anniversary of the massive 1986 fire that burned through the library. It was the most catastrophic fire of a library building in the U.S. Writer Susan Orlean’s new book, The Library Book, investigates the mystery behind who started this terrible blaze.

In an interview for NPR, Orleans shared her findings. "The fire burned for seven hours," Orlean says. "It reached temperatures of 2,500 degrees. ... A lot of firefighters who I interviewed said it was by far the most challenging, frightening fire that they've ever confronted in their careers."

Although the library was and is well-prepared for a blaze, with alarms and smoke detectors in place, 400,000 volumes, almost 20% of the libraries stock, were destroyed in that fire, according to the LAPL website.

Future Plans

The library plans to offer limited in-person services beginning May 3. It is unknown what caused this generator overheating. It is also unknown if this incident has affected the library’s plans to reopen.

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SF Bay Area (formerly OC) writer, mindfulness educator, and life coach. Passionate about public safety. Big fan of improv, funny lawn ornaments, and truthiness. IG: @bigsisterco | https://bigsister.co

Oakland, CA

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