Glenn L. Allen
LOS ANGELES -- The owner-architect of a Hollywood Hills mansion where a falling ceiling killed a Los Angeles firefighter during a blaze last year has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, NBCLosAngles.com reported Wednesday.
Architect Gerhard Becker, 48, was arrested Saturday and arraigned Wednesday in the death of firefighter Glen Allen, according to The Associated Press. Allen, 61, died from injuries sustained Feb. 16, 2011, as he helped attack the fire at the Viewsite Drive house that was to be featured in Heidi Klum's "Germany's Next Top Model," a knockoff of her American show with a similar name.
Authorities said the blaze started in an improperly installed 18-foot "fire trough," or oversize indoor fire pit, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Flames burned through a plastic sprinkler pipe and filled the attic insulation with water until the ceiling fell on Allen, officials said. Five others were injured in the blaze.
Rescuers used a chainsaw to cut their way through to Allen, who had served in the fire department for more than 35 years.
Becker, a German national, could face up to four years in prison if convicted.
He and another home occupant escaped the fire uninjured.
"We had been sleeping. We don't know where it actually started. We just got awake by the sprinkler system," Becker said at the time.
Prosecutors say Becker was the architect and main contractor for his luxury home. He was arrested when he flew from Spain to Los Angeles on Saturday. He remains jailed.
During the fire investigation last year, the Times and other media reported that at least five models were slated to move into the home the week after the fire occurred.
Radar Online last year reported the home sold for $7.1 million in 2008 before it was remade for the show.
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