HECTOR MATA, /GE TT Y IMAGES
BY LAURA CAMPBELL
It was a typical morning at Costco’s Los
Feliz warehouse near Glendale, California—or so workers thought, until
they heard the rumble. “I heard the
boom when I was over by the dock doors,”
says Costco employee Mark Zavala. “At first
Not business as usual for Costco’s Los
Feliz location. The warehouse provided
shelter, water, food, clothing and other
essentials for survivors (right) of the
January 26 crash of two commuter trains
near Los Angeles. Costco’s parking lot
serves as a triage area (above).
I thought it was thunder, but then it was like a
sixth sense—I knew something wasn’t right
so I went rushing out the back doors.” “One of the drivers heard someone
BOB RIHA JR.
It was pitch black outside when Mark yelling, ‘I don’t want to burn,’” Mark says.
rounded the corner of the building. The sec- Mark, receiving/forklift drivers Frank Anaya 250 pizzas, clothing, shoes, soap, sandwiches,
ond he did, he discovered a train car on its and Hector Martinez, and a Southwest muffins, towels and numerous other essentials
side—and then the flames. Mark bolted back Trading truck driver spoke words of comfort were donated to help comfort those on site.
to the building for a fire extinguisher and help as they pulled a 42-year-old man from the “I think it is safe to say that the Costco
from his co-workers. wreckage, using what was left of his clothing employees saved many lives with their fire
Just before daybreak, about a dozen in order not to touch the painful burns that equipment and the aid they gave to those who
Costco employees at the Los Feliz location covered him. Although the man passed away were severely bleeding,” says Cayler Lee
helped in rescue efforts after two commuter within minutes, along with 10 other train pas- Carter Jr., deputy chief and commanding offi-
trains crashed, hurling passengers and turning sengers, many lives were probably saved that cer of operations for the Los Angeles Police
rail cars into smoking, twisted heaps of steel day thanks to the quick-thinking and heroic Department. “Their quick response probably
next to the Costco parking lot. The crash efforts of the Los Feliz employees. saved at least a few lives.”
killed 11 people and injured nearly 200. “Another passenger was sitting on top of Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn praised
Word spread quickly about the trains, and the wreckage, and he shouted to us and we the Costco employees for their rescue efforts.
so did the fire. “Nobody who went out to help had him jump into our arms,” explains Mark. “Personnel here at Costco rushed out with
left the building empty-handed; everyone had “The man survived, but both of his legs were blankets and other supplies to help people,”
a fire extinguisher in their hands,” says broken.” Hahn told the Associated Press. “There were
receiving secretary Karen Mendoza. Ten minutes and 20 fire extinguishers a lot of good stories in that respect.”
“We started grabbing extinguishers off later, the parking lot was aglow with dozens “The way in which we reacted to this
the floor, out of the break room and the of emergency and law-enforcement vehicles. event is just part of the Costco way,” says Los
office—wherever we could find them,” Personnel and equipment from across the Feliz warehouse manager Kevin Green. “If
explains Mark, a forklift operator. “There region arrived atthe shocking scene. Even so, someone is in need, we are going to help
were about six to eight of us at first, and two the Costco team continued to help with res- them. The culture of our company removes
of our truckers helped out, too. We acted cue efforts. the wondering. We didn’t question ourselves
quickly, and we were outside within about a “Everybody pulled together and acted as about helping out and doing what needed to
minute or two of the crash. a team,” Mark says. “Nobody panicked.” be done.” IC
“Even though we weren’t able to put out After the initial rescue, a makeshift triage
all of the fires, we were able to contain them center was established in the Costco parking Laura Campbell is a reporter for Costco Today,
enough that they didn’t spread to other cars,” lot. Warehouse workers spent the morning Costco’s employee magazine.
Mark adds, noting that many of the employ- providing survivors with water and clean
ees were standing two inches deep in diesel clothes and cooking pizzas for firefighters.
fuel while battling the flames. Five pallets of bottled water, 320 hot dogs,