Four people were killed this morning when they were trapped inside a burning gun store just east of Pasadena and firefighters were unable to reach them through heavy flames and exploding bullets, fire officials said.
Michael Moura, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said four people trapped inside Fowler's Gunsmithing at 281 S. Rosemead Blvd. were killed in the blaze. Moura added that firemen were still fighting the blaze at noon. They recovered the bodies of the victims, who were not immediately identified, shortly before 12:30.
One employee who escaped the blaze with minor injuries said only three people had been trapped inside the two-story gun and sports center. The employee, Brent Hanson, carried a 3-year-old girl to safety. Her father apparently died in the blaze.
The girl was airlifted from Arcadia Methodist Hospital to the burn center at Brotman Memorial Hospital in Culver City. A county Fire Department spokesman said the girl had second- and third-degree burns over 35% of her body.
Brad Fowler said his 55-year-old mother and 39-year-old brother, who own and operate the popular gun shop, and an elderly employee were trapped inside the two-story building just south of Colorado Boulevard.
Fowler, who lives in Orange County, was driving to visit his mother and brother when he saw the smoke and flames, which apparently began in the basement of the store around 8:30 a.m. before causing a huge explosion. The explosion blew glass from the store more than 50 feet across the boulevard.
Fowler said he was never able to get inside the store, which was not yet opened for business and was locked for security reasons.
"I saw the smoke and I said 'Oh, my God. What's happened?' It doesn't look good. I don't think any of them survived."
Twelve units and more than 30 firefighters from the county battled the two-alarm blaze.