Gordon Tokumatsu/Fabian Rodriguez
Hours after fire officials launched campaign to raise awareness about smoke detectors, officials revealed to NBC4 that the fire that claimed the lives of a mother and her 1-year-old son in South LA is now being investigated as a homicide. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Studio City for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on March 7, 2014.
The mother and her 1-year-old boy who died in a fire earlier in the week were victims of homicide, fire authorities said Friday.
Dillan and Gisela Reyes died Wednesday after a fire ravaged the garage conversion they were living in in South Los Angeles. The boy was officially identified, but the woman was not because she was "burned beyond recognition," coroner's officials said.
Family friends identified Gisela Reyes as the wife of Oscar Reyes, who works at a popular taco stand in Studio City.
The case was ruled a homicide after preliminary autopsy reports from the coroner’s office, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jaime Moore told NBC4. Details about the deaths or any possible culprits were not available.
Los Angeles police said they were investigating. No suspects have been named.
The bodies were found in rubble in a converted garage. Their deaths came as fire officials said they were seeing a spike in the number of fire fatalities at homes without smoke detectors in the city.
The case also raised questions about the fire department's response. Neighbors reported smoke in the same neighborhood 90 minutes before Wednesday's fire. But authorities could not find the source and returned to their other duties.
An internal investigation was launched into the firefighters’ actions in the events leading up to the fatal fire.
The restaurant where the common-law husband, Oscar Reyes, worked, meanwhile, began taking donations for the funerals.
Oscar Reyes was at work when the fire occurred. His older 7-year-old son was at school.