Architect sentenced to a year in jail for firefighter's death

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Outdoor fireplaces hidden inside the house violated local building codes.

January 20, 2014

Architect Gerhard Becker was sentenced to a year in Los Angeles county jail after pleading no contest to the manslaughter of a firefighter who died while trying to contain a fire in a home the architect had designed for himself. The fire began in one of four fireplaces that had been manufactured for outdoor use but hidden within the house itself—a violation of local building codes. The flames then melted a water pipe that leaked thousands of gallons of water into a ceiling above the heads of firefighters. The ceiling collapsed, crushing a firefighter who died the next day of his injuries.

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