Firefighters Find Burned Body on Sidewalk Below Hillside Fire; Arson Suspected

Authorities are attempting to identify the severely burned body of a man discovered by firefighters who were responding to a yard fire in Los Angeles.

A report of a small blaze in a hillside yard in Mid-City on Sunday night brought firefighters to the 1100 block of South Harvard Boulevard, the site of a boarded-up apartment building, with an overgrown yard, surrounded by a chain like fence with a no trespassing sign.

The body was discovered under some debris at the foot of the hillside, between the fence and a low retaining wall, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Investigators believe it was the body burning at the bottom of the slope that ignited the foliage, and that the fire had been deliberately set.

"It smelled strongly of gasoline," said neighbor Chloe Sadvhani, who came upon the scene as she was returning home.

Investigators have not ruled out the possiblity that it was self-inflicted.  The priority is to identify the victim, a challenge made more difficult by the extent of the burns. His age and ethnicity could not be determined.

There is some transient activity on the property, said LAPD Det. Thomas Small, but it's not known whether the victim was from the immediate area.

"We're trying to determine who may or may not have been in the area." Small said.

What clothing of the victim that could be seen appeared to be a woman's, Sadvhani said.  It appeared to her he may have been transgender, prompting her to wonder if the crime was motivated by hate.

"We could use some community support on this one," said Small, encouraging anyone with information to contact West Bureau Homicide detectves at 213-382-9470 during business hours, and other times at 877-LAPD-24-7.  Those wishing to remain anonymous can call Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS.

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