Pico Union fourplex fire allegedly caused by homeless

PICO UNION, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Friday morning fire at a fourplex near the 110 Freeway in Pico Union is believed to have been started by people in a homeless encampment, investigators say.

The blaze erupted about 6 a.m. at a two-story structure in the 1800 block of West 20th Street, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement. Forty-seven firefighters responded to the scene, where the fire raged on both floors and in the common attic.

The flames were knocked down in 34 minutes, the LAFD said. No injuries were reported.

Many residents were sleeping when the fire broke out. They were forced to scramble for safety, including a mother and her 6-month-old child.

"My dad woke up out of nowhere. He was like, 'Everybody wake up...look outside,' it was all flames," recalled evacuee Lewis Maldonado.

Fire fighters were on the scene fast and did their best to save property. they say smoke detectors helped get everyone out without injury.

Firefighters said the fire was initially sparked by some homeless people. They're looking at surveillance video to try and track down possible suspects.

"It started at a homeless encampment directly behind to the rear property...," said Paul Pham of the LAFD.

Residents say they have had trouble with the homeless in the past, including with other fires.

While authorities investigate, residents will be forced to look for a new place to live. The Red Cross will be able to help with temporary housing for the two families displaced.
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