Fire officials were going door-to-door offering safety tips and free smoke alarms in a Koreatown neighborhood Wednesday after an apartment fired claimed the life of a man earlier.
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Firefighters were called about 6:30 p.m. to a fire in the 200 block of South Normandie Avenue. As they battled the flames, they discovered the body of a man in a unit.
The victim was declared dead at the scene.
Family members said the 20-year-old man lived in the apartment with his parents.
The victim’s father said his son had immigrated to the U.S. a month ago and planned on going to college.
Fire officials said smoke alarms were sounding as they arrived. Though the building was not equipped with fire sprinklers, other life-saving systems such as a fire hose and doors that limited smock and heat from spreading were in place and functioning, officials said.
Investigators were trying to determine why the victim was unable to escape, but preliminary reports point to smoke inhalation.
Neighbors checked on the apartment to see if anyone was inside, but said they received no response. Others used a hose to try to put out the flames as firefighters were on their way.
“I ran outside and I just see this whole smoke,” said witness Jose Lopez. “The whole apartment was just engulfed in flames.”
According to fire officials, the victim was the 13th person to die in a residential fire this year. It had been 87 days since the last fatal fire in Los Angeles – the longest span this year – officials said.
The apartment building was built in 1982 and contained 36 units. The fire caused an estimated $120,000 in damage.