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Arson investigators probe cause of apartment blaze that killed 1

April 23, 2013|By Robert J. Lopez

Arson investigators continue to investigate the source of a North Hollywood blaze that left one person dead and four others injured.

The fire broke out Monday morning in a two-story apartment building in the 5100 block of Riverton Avenue and engulfed an apartment unit with intense flames and choking smoke, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

The blaze was so hot that it blackened firefighters' helmets, and the thick smoke forced rescuers to use an infrared search device to find victims trapped in the structure. 

The man who died was discovered by a firefighter with the infrared device. The man was taken in grave condition to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, officials said. His name and age were not released. It was unclear what caused his death, officials said

Another victim was taken to a hospital with injuries that were described as non-life-threatening. The other three patients were treated at the scene, officials said. 

At least two people were rescued from a balcony by firefighters who had hoisted a ladder up to the building. 

"This was a well-involved, intense fire," LAFD spokesman Erik Scott told The Times.

A Fire Department light force, which is a six-person team on a ladder truck and pumper truck, used a special power saw to cut a hole in the roof so that a dangerous buildup of smoke and heat could escape, officials said.

The blaze was knocked down in 25 minutes by more than 50 firefighters. "It was a very aggressive fire attack," Scott said.

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