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2 Killed, 3 Injured in Echo Park Apartment Fire

Fire and police authorities say an accelerant was used to start the fire. An arson and homicide investigation is underway.

Photo credit: John Schreiber
Photo credit: John Schreiber

By City News Service

A stubborn fire believed to be a product of arson broke out Thursday morning at a two-story apartment building in Echo Park, killing two people and injuring three others, authorities said.

"It appears to have been started by an accelerant," Sgt. Melvin Gamble of the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Station said in a telephone interview, adding that homicide and arson investigators were dispatched to the building in the 1000 block of North Bonnie Brae Avenue.

Gamble said Los Angeles Fire Department investigators used accelerant- detection dogs to scour the building.

"They (LAFD investigators) are pretty certain an accelerant was used to start the fire, so it's definitely intentional," Gamble said.

He said the injured included a man who broke an arm and a leg jumping out of a window and a girl with facial injuries. Fire officials said there were a total of three injured.

The blaze was reported at 12:18 a.m. and took 104 firefighters 52 minutes to knock down, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey. Some 25 people were evacuated.

Two bodies were later found in the building, said Gamble. The bodies were reportedly of a man and a woman.

The fire produced some chaotic scenes. LAPD officers knocked on a dozen apartment doors and ushered occupants away from the burning building, a news videographer reported.

A damage tally was being tallied.

Humphrey described the damage to the building as "significant" but declined to release details on such aspects as evacuations and injuries, even any involving firefighters, based on what he described as instructions received Wednesday from the City Attorney's Office.

Separately, Humphrey also placed the LAFD Twitter account on "temporary hiatus," according to entries on the LAFD and LAFD Conversation accounts at 1:39 a.m.

"All of our social media is on hiatus until we get clarity and develop a plan of how orders are to be implemented in regard to our social media presence," Humphrey said.

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