Exercise echoes a scary night in Los Angeles

interstate.GIFAt 2:30 this afternoon, the Los Angeles Fire Department will supervise the full evacuation of the Aon Building, the 62-story tower at Wilshire and Hope downtown. The city has a requirement that buildings over 35 stories go through an evacuation drill every three years. In case you wonder why, the Aon was known as the First Interstate Tower on May 4, 1988. That night, the city's scariest structure fire ever broke out on the 12th floor. It took 383 firefighters and paramedics to save the building — then the city's tallest and built without sprinklers. The city's fire chief later admitted there were moments when he thought the skyscraper was a goner.

The Aon tower now has sprinklers.

Sadder anniversary: The LAFD blog recounts the crash of a rescue helicopter headed to Children's Hospital on March 23, 1998, killing three firefighters and the 12-year-old patient.

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