Saturday, June 23

Westwood fires reported after UCLA victory

A dumpster was set on fire on Landfair Avenue Saturday night following the UCLA football team's win over USC.

A dumpster was set on fire on Landfair Avenue Saturday night following the UCLA football team's win over USC.

Naheed Rajwani

The Los Angeles Fire Department and university police responded to numerous reports of fires in Westwood’s North Village over the weekend, following the UCLA football team’s victory over crosstown rival, USC on Saturday.

LAFD responded to eight reports of fires from 3:40 p.m. Saturday to 4:20 a.m. Sunday, said LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey.

It is unclear whether multiple calls were placed about the same incidents, though the time and location of each call seemed to vary, Humphrey said.

No injuries related to the fires were reported, he said.

Many of the fires were couches or trash cans set on fire by partygoers in the area, which seemed to mimic similar types of fires that were set after UCLA’s last football victory over USC in 2006, said UCPD officer Jim Lunnen.

“People see the pictures (of past fires) circulating on Facebook and think that is what they are supposed to do,” Lunnen said.

In 2006, police used batons and fired rubber bullets to disperse crowds of several thousand people who gathered in the North Village and set couches on fire, according to Daily Bruin archives.

Although this year’s celebrations were less extravagant than those in 2006, Lunnen said university police had several more officers on patrol than usual to handle the extra crowds.

“There were lots and lots of people in the streets, more than I have ever seen,” said Sarah Blackwell-Simon, a third-year classics student who could not walk to her apartment because police officers temporarily blocked access to her street.

“There was definitely a lot of tension,” she said. “But the cops standing around with batons freaked me out the most.”

Among the instances of reported fires, a vacuum cleaner was put out minutes after being set on fire on the corner of Levering and Roebling avenues, Lunnen said.

And at about 11 p.m. a couch was set on fire in the middle of the street near 540 Midvale Ave., he said.

A crowd of about 100 people gathered in the street around the couch, cheering and doing the 8-clap, said Isabella Europa, a fourth-year anthropology student who saw the fire from her apartment on Midvale Avenue.

“It was huge,” Europa said. “The entire couch was engulfed.”

A number of parties were also shut down by police.

“The party is over, clear the area,” police told a large crowd on Midvale Avenue over a speakerphone at around midnight. The crowd continued to stand on the corner of Midvale Avenue and Ophir Drive, and later dispersed after police temporarily closed access to the area.

Later, at about 1:30 a.m., another couch was set on fire outside of Blackwell-Simon’s apartment on Glenrock Avenue.

“I’m annoyed that this is our reaction (to winning),” she said. “It doesn’t really say good things about our school. It is definitely the darker side of school spirit.”

Besides the fires, UCPD did not notice an increase in other crimes as of early Sunday morning, Lunnen said.

Contributing reports by Naheed Rajwani, Bruin senior staff.

Email Donnelly at [email protected].

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