Fire breaks out at hillside home in Mt. Washington

Firefighters continued dousing hot spots Friday inside a three-story Mount Washington hillside home gutted by flames, while the fate of an 84-year-old resident remained unknown and search-and-rescue crews waited for the structure to be deemed safe before they can enter to see if he died in the blaze.

The 9,111-square-foot home in the 4000 block of Sea View Avenue erupted in flames around 8:35 p.m. Thursday.

The flames effectively gutted the home, with interior floors collapsing and leaving the structure a smoldering shell of a building.

``At any one time, there's 10 to 15 people living in this home,'' David Ortiz of the Los Angeles Fire Department said. ``From my understanding there were 10 people last night. Four of them were aided out by the fire
department -- they were helped out of the home.''

A 74-year-old woman was treated for smoke inhalation, but was in fair condition, fire officials said. It took firefighters about three hours to extinguish the flames, but the building continued to smolder. Some neighboring homes also suffered damage from the fire and heat.

The 84-year-old man, possibly the owner of the home, remained missing. Some witnesses said the man may have gone back inside the burning home in hopes of rescuing several puppies and a cat that were inside.

Ortiz said the home was still unstable and unsafe for search crews or cadaver dogs to enter to determine if the man was inside.

``Once they make that determination (that the structure is safe), we will feel safe to send our investigators in to sift through what's left of this house, determine the cause and search for additional victims,'' he said.

Some neighbors told reporters at the scene they have complained in the past about the number of people living in the home.

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