Family, elderly dog escape Koreatown house fire

Editors Note: An earlier version of the story reported that a dog was killed in this fire. The dog was able to escape the fire safely.

LOS ANGELES — A family and their dog were able to escape a fire that heavily damaged a Koreatown home early Friday morning. Investigators say improperly disposed lithium batteries may be to blame for the fire.

The fire broke out at the home in the 900 block of S. Kenmore Avenue just before 10 a.m.

Aerial views from SkyFOX showed heavy smoke and fire coming from the structure. 

John Hwang said he woke up this morning to flames outside his bedroom in the home where he lives with his adult daughter and 15-year-old dog.

Hwang's daughter was at work already when the fire started. Hwang told FOX 11 that he tried to use a hose to battle the flames, but they were just too big, so he ran inside the flaming building to try and recover the Maltese pup, named Marty McFly after the Back to the Future character.

"We don't recommend people go back in burning structures once they are out" said Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Adam VanGerpen.

Hwang wasn't able to find Marty McFly, but VanGerpen told FOX 11 that the dog was able to get out of the home safely, uninjured. Hwang, however, was treated for smoke inhalation. One firefighter also suffered a cut to her hand.

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The building was badly damaged, but firefighters were able to keep flames from spreading to nearby buildings in the dense neighborhood off of Kenmore Avenue.

Investigators are now trying to determine what caused the fire, and said ion batteries found near a melted garbage bin may be a likely culprit.

"People should not throw away batteries in the trash," explained VanGerpen, adding that the LAFD has several battery discard operations during the year. 

The fire comes as Southern California braces for a heat wave with above-average temperatures expected across the region.