ECHO PARK (CBSLA.com) — Two people were killed and three others were injured Thursday morning in a suspicious Echo Park apartment fire.
The fire broke out around 12:15 a.m. in the 1000 block of N. Bonnie Brae Street, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
The 11-unit building was completely engulfed when more than 100 firefighters arrived on scene to find residents jumping out of windows to escape the flames.
Firefighters were forced to use rotary saws to cut through security bars in order to rescue residents.
“This was an above-ground fire where they had to scale a number of steps with their ladders and hoses, all their tools and their equipment, in order to battle this fire,” Cpt. Jamie Moore said.
The blaze, which investigators believe was sparked in a rear unit, was extinguished in 53 minutes.
The bodies of a 20-year-old man and 90-year-old Rosa Aurora Fonsseca were later found inside, officials said.
“Just sad you know,” Fonsseca’s grandson, Jose Amaya, said. “God is the owner of your life.”
A man, girl and one firefighter were also hurt in the fire, according to Moore.
The man suffered a broken leg after jumping from the second story of the building, while the girl was treated for smoke inhalation. The extent of the firefighter’s injuries was not released. Officials told KCAL9’s Dave Lopez a fourth person may have also been injured.
The cause of the fire was unknown, however, officials believe an accelerant may have been used.
“Our arson investigators are on scene just because of how quickly that fire spread and how much fire our firefighters encountered,” Moore said.
Officials are also investigating whether or not the building is up to code. City records show it was originally constructed in 1913 as a 4,000-square-foot Victorian home and was recently converted into 200-square-foot units.
The LAPD’s homicide division is aiding in the investigation.
Officials said 25 displaced residents have been taken to a nearby hotel for shelter.