UCLA fans celebrate men’s Final Four berth in streets near campus

LOS ANGELES — Two couches and an electric scooter were torched Tuesday night as hundreds of UCLA fans celebrated in the streets after the men’s basketball team advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 2008.

Almost as soon as 11th-seeded UCLA sealed its 51-49 victory over No. 1 seed Michigan in the Elite Eight contest, fans took to the streets near the school’s Westwood campus, flames went up and the party began.

Some fans took charred remains of the couches as souvenirs.

“It’s crazy," said Warren Coombs, a junior majoring in applied math. “All this pent-up energy. No one’s even wearing masks right now. I just got vaccinated and I’m wearing a mask."

Coombs said he first followed a group of students to Pauley Pavilion, UCLA’s famed basketball arena, before circling back and joining the celebration in the streets.

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Firefighters arrived at an area near UCLA's campus after the men's basketball team advanced to the Final Four, sparking a celebration among students. (Photo: Josh Peter, USA TODAY Sports)

“I was just following the crowd," he said. “It seemed like a fun, random thing to do.’’

The Los Angeles Fire Department twice dispatched firetrucks to the heart of the celebration — North Village Westwood, filled with apartments. The second time, more than a dozen Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers wearing riot helmets arrived on the scene.

The crowd cheered each time the fires were set and cheered again when the firetrucks arrived. In between, the revelers danced and took selfies with the fire in the background.

No arrests were made and the crowd began to disperse at about 10 p.m., approximately an hour after it formed.

“We haven’t taken an aggressive stance," Sgt. Aron Algren told USA TODAY Sports as he watched a crowd that chanted “Final Four,’’ “UCLA” and profanely about its crosstown rival, USC.

Several fans didn’t bother waiting for a trip to a local bar and instead brought bottles of alcohol into the street.

Adding some academia to the spectacle, a UCLA student who would identify himself only by first name, Dave, looked on as the charred scooter emitted sparks.

“All the cops spraying water on the lithium, it just creates more sparks and fire," he said with a grin.

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