A fast-moving fire destroyed a North Hollywood homeless shelter early today, displacing 29 people, most of them children, and cutting off a crucial lifeline for hundreds of needy people in the San Fernando Valley.
Sparks from a fire in an adjacent pallet yard spread to the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission, 13422 Saticoy St., about 12:30 a.m., authorities said.
The mission's Stacy Miller said a security guard monitoring surveillance video monitors saw something burning and called the fire department. In the five minutes it took for the residents to get out and across the street, the structure was engulfed, she said.
The multi-alarm fire was knocked down at 1:55 a.m. but then flared up sporadically for more than an hour.
The displaced residents, from seven or eight families, were being housed in emergency shelter provided by the American Red Cross, Miller said.
About 60 percent of the shelter's residents are children under the age of 12, she said.
In addition to the facility's residences, the warehouse hub for the mission's three thrift stores was also destroyed, Miller said. That effectively eliminates the sales that provide 50 percent of the shelter's annual revenue, she said.
The blaze also destroyed the mission's food preparation area, where 42,000 meals were put together each year, and its fleet of vehicles, which provide meals and mobile showers to 1,700 people each month through an outreach program called S.O.S., she said.
"Our ability to do that is ruined," Miller said.
"There's a lot of devastation," she said, "but we're hanging in there."--City News Service