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Susan Orlean on the 30th anniversary of the LA Central Library fire




The Central Library was constructed in 1926 and designed by Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue with ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival influences.
The Central Library was constructed in 1926 and designed by Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue with ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival influences.
Todd Johnson/KPCC

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The Los Angeles Central Library fire of 1986 was declared one of the most challenging structure fires of its time.

The library, built in 1926, was set ablaze 30 years ago last Friday, April 29, wiping out 20 percent of the library’s holdings.

To save the building that day, the Los Angeles Fire Department worked for more than seven hours along with 60 firefighting companies to extinguish the flames. The fire was later found to be an act of arson.

On the heels of the fire’s 30th anniversary, Patt Morrison speaks with author Susan Orlean about a new book Orlean is writing on the incident, what the city nearly lost and the impact of rebuilding the historic structure.

Guest:

Susan Orlean, New Yorker writer who’s been working on a book on the Los Angeles Central Library fire