Fire that killed teen actor melted firefighters' helmets

Did you know Eitan Djiji?
Tell us about him, contact the NZ Herald

Eitan Djiji acted in the 2009 comedy My Homework Ate My Dog. Photo / Facebook
Eitan Djiji acted in the 2009 comedy My Homework Ate My Dog. Photo / Facebook

The house fire that claimed the life of Christchurch-raised aspiring actor Eitan Djiji was so hot it melted the firefighters' helmets.

The 14-year-old former Prebbleton School pupil died at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Centre yesterday after being pulled unconscious from a top floor bedroom in his family's burning Sherman Oaks two-storey home on Tuesday.

Firefighters braved the intense heat and flames to rescue Eitan, only succeeding on the third attempt and later photographs showed their helmets had started to melt, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

It was black, black ... it was pure black," said Paul Schori, an EMT-firefighter from Station 88, his yellow helmet scorched and its facia a melted blob.

"We bumped into the staircase, a metal spiral staircase.

"We marched up multiple times, pushed back by the heat. We finally got through and found the male victim on the bed, and were able to enact a rescue," Mr Schori said.

Eitan's mother, father and younger sister were able to flee the early morning blaze.

After examining the fire's aftermath, officials said no evidence of a functional smoke alarm within the home was found.

Eitan's father, Gigi Djiji, 58, a building contractor, was treated for burns at the scene. His mother Pauline, known as Polly, 50, declined medical treatment, and sister Maya, 12, was taken to hospital with burns and respiratory problems.

Eitan's death has "shocked" his old school.

Prebbleton principal Mike Hogan said it was devastating news.

He said he hadn't contacted the family yet, but others in the community had.

"As you can imagine people are shocked and very sad and upset. People still can't believe that such a young life has gone in such a tragic way."

Eitan was due to start at the prestigious High School for the Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles in few months.

He had moved to the United States with his parents and three siblings about four years ago.

Eitan featured in a 2008 comedy film My Homework Ate My Dog, about a kid who never does his homework, and has also performed as a singer and stand-up comic.

- NZPA

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 25 Dec 2014 20:47:07 Processing Time: 460ms