Person found dead in Rosemead condo fire; blaze suspicious in nature

ROSEMEAD, Calif. (KABC) -- A person was found dead following a fire at a condominium in Rosemead, and authorities say the origin of the blaze is suspicious in nature.

Firefighters responded to the 8300 block of Rush Street shortly before 5 p.m., according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Upon arrival, light smoke was seen coming from a bedroom at a two-story condo. A knockdown was declared minutes later.

A fatality was confirmed at the scene, and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department took over the investigation.

"Due to some circumstances inside the residence that gave firefighters reason to believe they may be in a crime scene, fire commanders elected to go head and withdraw from the scene after the fire was knocked down," said L.A. County Fire Department Capt. Tony Imbrendan.

Neighbor Patrick Cascegno was evacuated from his unit. He's one of eight people forced to spend the night elsewhere in case of a flare-up.

"...I heard someone banging on the gate, and it was one of the other neighbors saying, 'There's a fire,'" he said.

Normally, the fire department would have fully cleared the scene following the fire, but that was delayed because of what was found inside.

"Arson investigators from the sheriff's department and fire department responded to the scene and determined that the origin of the fire is suspicious in nature and that there's evidence of narcotics activity, possibly the sale of marijuana occurring at the location," said Sgt. Richard Biddle of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau.

Those who live in the area said they never saw the occupant of the unit or noticed anything suspicious.

"I'm shocked. I just had no idea anything like this was going on, you know?" said resident Maggie Garcia.

The residents who were forced out of their homes should be allowed back in at 6 a.m. Friday, officials said.

Earlier reports that the condo may have been marijuana grow house were later found to be untrue.
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