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Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Bel-Air mansion was...

By MARK BARABAK

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Bel-Air mansion was destroyed today in a $3 million fire that forced the basketball star's girlfriend and their 2-year-old son to escape through a window.

Fire officials said the blaze destroyed 90 percent of the 7,000-square-foot home. Six people were sleeping in the house when the blaze broke out, but all escaped without injury, fire inspector Ed Reed said at a news conference in front of the smouldering ruins.

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Abdul-Jabbar, 35, was in Boston with the defending world champion Lakers at the time of the blaze, officials said. A team spokesman said Abdul-Jabbar had flown with the team to Dallas but it was uncertain whether he would fly home and miss Tuesday's game against the Mavericks.

The two-story mansion in the exclusive area was valued at $1.5 million and damage to its contents was also estimated at $1.5 million, the fire department said. No inventory of property had been taken and the damage estimates could escalate, Battalion Chief Richard Elias said.

Lakers spokesman Josh Rosenfeld said Abdul-Jabbar's home had been customized with raised door frames and counters to accommodate the 7-foot, 2-inch center. He lived at the mansion with his girlfriend, Cheryl Pistano, and their son, Amir.

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Also staying at the house were Pistano's brothers, a friend and her friend's baby.

'They had to climb through windows to get out of the house,' said Lakers spokesman Josh Rosenfeld, who spoke to Abdul-Jabbar's agent.

The fire department said Pistano was awakened by a cat about 2 a.m. PST and smelled smoke. She telephoned a contractor who had recently installed a fire-proof roof and returned to bed after he assured her nothing was wrong.

The fire was reported about 3:45 a.m. PST, but officials said it was unclear who called for help. The blaze was extinguished in about 45 minutes by 10 fire companies assisted by two fire department helicopters.

Elias said inspectors were investigating the possibility that a spark from the fireplace entered a crack in the wall, smoldered and burst into flames in the attic.

Abdul-Jabbar, six-time winner of the NBA's Most Valuable Player award, has taken home virtually every major collegiate and professional trophy at least once. Firefighters were seen carrying out two game balls.

The basketball star owned an extensive array of Oriental rugs and had more than 3,000 jazz albums in his collection. Their condition was not immediately known.

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