Fire Threatens Historic Midtown Office Building

May 3, 1947
Los Angeles

A spectacular daylight fire nearly consumed the famed Bradbury Building, Third Street and Broadway, today, but it was saved by the concerted efforts of eighteen fire companies under the supervision of Fire Chief John Anderson. Crowds gathered in the streets to marvel as ladder trucks supported firemen climbing into the burning top floor offices of the Los Angeles Curtain Manufacturing Co. on the building’s Third Street side.

Credit for saving the historic building, constructed at a cost of $500,000 by mining pioneer Lewis J. Bradbury fifty years ago and immediately famous for its grill work, goes in part to courageous elevator operator Minnie Epp, 62, of 123 E. Ave. 35, who remained at her post to ferry firefighters up to the scene of the conflagration. There were two injuries, to fireman Joe Stovall, whose right foot was cut by an axe, and to building employee Gleason Burks, who was struck by a falling hose and knocked from the fifth floor to the fourth, but fortunately suffered only a bruised shoulder.

B.J. Erwig, owner of the curtain company, estimated damages at $8000-$10,000. The cause of the fire is not known.

In other news, it appears 15-year-old Esther Yvonne Brooks is going to be able to keep her nose, which was cut off when she was thrown through the windshield in an auto accident on April 21. The nose, which was missing for more than two hours, was found by Sheriff’s deputies searching the wreckage, and rushed to Wilshire Hospital, where it was grafted back on the young lady’s face. Plastic surgeon Dr. G. J. S. Rambo is cautiously optimistic that the graft will take, and Miss Brooks, of 706 E. Arbor Vitae St., Inglewood, should be back to her old nasal activities by early summer.

Published by

Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including The Real Black Dahlia. She is the author of The Kept Girl, the acclaimed historical mystery starring the young Raymond Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe, and of The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons and forensic science seminars of LAVA- The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For Life, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Lost in the Grooves and an oral history of Neutral Milk Hotel.

One thought on “Fire Threatens Historic Midtown Office Building”

  1. Thanks for remembering and sharing word of this epic fire, as well as the notable acts of Minnie Epp.

    1947 was a busy year for the Los Angeles Fire Department, with such globally noted events as the O’Connor Electro-Plating Company explosion and the explosion of the S.S. Markay.

    Thanks for taking the time to make mention of the exploits of the Los Angeles Fire Department during 1947.

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Public Information Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

    LAFD Home Page:

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