Architect Charged in Firefighter's Death

After a yearlong investigation into a fire at an $11-million mansion in the Hollywood Hills, Gerhard Albert Becker, the architect who designed the home, has been charged in the death of a firefighter fighting the blaze.
February 20, 2012, 7am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Richard Winton and Hector Becerra report on the results of the investigation, which concluded that, "Gerhard Albert Becker, 48, knowingly ignored safety recommendations and altered the home after inspections," and has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of veteran firefighter Glenn Allen, who was killed by falling debris.

Becker, who plead not guilty to the charges, is accused of installing four outdoor fireplaces inside the home, a violation of city building codes, after the building had been inspected.

According to court records, "he [Becker] did not consider them to be fireplaces but rather architectural features or decorations." However, "This man built an 18-foot fire trough designed for outdoors inside the home. It was a recipe for disaster," added Deputy Dist. Atty. Sean Carney. "He essentially put this fireplace on 2-by-4s."

"The deadly fire broke out from a fireplace on the third floor, racing upward and through the mansion's attic, eating away at wood framing and supports holding up the ceiling," report Winton and Becerra

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Published on Thursday, February 16, 2012 in Los Angeles Times
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