In Memory of Captain Albert E. Torres
On Saturday, October 12, 2019, California residents learned that a veteran officer with the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks had a line of duty death. Captain Albert E. Torres suffered a fatal heart attack while assisting during a massive wildfire.
Captain Torres was a veteran with over forty years of experience with the LA Department of Recreation and Parks. During the Saddleridge Fire, Torres worked long, extended shifts in the evacuation zones, helping residents evacuate to safety.
The Saddleridge Fire began on Thursday, October 10, 2019. It is not clear how it started. The fire burned nearly 9,000 acres and destroyed many homes. The fire spread rapidly. It pushed for a necessary call to evacuate more than 100,000 residents in the community.
Captain Torres worked long shifts to help assist with the fire and patrolling areas in the evacuation zone to protect residents from looters or assist any residents in safety. Torres worked a 14-hour shift on Friday, October 11. He spent much of the shift on patrol in some remote areas of the San Fernando Valley region.
After reporting back at the command center at Hansen Dam, he spoke with other rangers and told them he was not feeling well. As he mentioned this to his fellow officers, he collapsed on the floor. Officers rushed to provide life-saving measures, and EMTs transported Torres to the local hospital for treatment. The following morning, Torres passed away.
He had completed a 14-hour shift of patrolling parks and remote areas in the evacuation zone in the San Fernando Valley. He reported back to the command center at Hansen Dam before returning to park headquarters in Griffith Park. He collapsed after telling other rangers he did not feel well. He was transported to a local hospital, where he died the following morning.
Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, California
Torres loved the outdoors, helping others, and serving as an officer with the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. The city of LA was incorporated officially in April of 1850. During the 1880s, the town felt the burden of a massive 30% growth in a few short years. To allow for parks to be established and maintained, the City Council created the Department of Parks in 1889.
In the 1890s, the city was considering several pieces of land to create park and recreation areas. Instead, these properties were turned over to the Department of Parks. Then, a few short years later, during Christmas, 1896, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith donated five square miles of the Los Feliz Rancho to the city for a park. He encouraged the city to focus on generosity. He said, “It must be made a place of recreation and rest for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people.”
Captain Albert E. Torres leaves behind his wife, daughter, and son. He received full honors during his funeral service, as he died protecting the residents of the San Fernando Valley. Many came forward to show their support for the Torres family. As Captain Torres was escorted to his final resting place, residents lined the streets with signs of gratitude.
Chief Park Ranger Joe Losorelli spoke of the loss of Torres, stating that Captain Torres is the first line of duty death for the department. “It’s fitting that day came while Captain Torres was doing something that he thoroughly loved, being a park ranger. He was always looking for a way to improve our division, make our lives a little better, and educate people that walk into our parks. That’s a true ranger; it really is.”