Michael Gagne is a sales manager at North Hollywood Toyota. When the fire erupted at a construction site a few doors down, he grabbed his cell phone and started taking video.
Within those 45 to 60 seconds, he says the fire was roaring out of control. The wind made the situation worse. Palm trees lit up and a nearby apartment complex was torched. As he shot video on his cell phone, Gagne watched in disbelief.
The blaze destroyed the six units as well as five in a nearby building.
"I was upstairs working, and I heard my car alarm going off. I went downstairs and my entire front door was engulfed in flames," a man at the scene told us.
He said he and his girlfriend and their dogs were stuck in his bathroom until help came.
One woman jumped off a balcony to safety. Gagne said one of his salesmen helped her down. She told us she lost everything, and on top of that, her 13-year-old dog named Winston ran back toward the fire and is believed to have died.
Injuries included a woman and firefighter who were transported to a local hospital.
While Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas told us the fire generated a lot of heat, Gagne said the wind really kicked it into high gear.
"It went from zero to 100 so quick. It was so dry," he said. As he showed us his video, Gagne added, "I went over there to see a couple flames and in 30 seconds the thing was completely engulfed."
It took 100 to 125 firefighters to put out the blaze in a little over an hour.
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