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West Hollywood burn victim may have accidentally started the fire

November 04, 2013|By Kate Linthicum

A detective investigating the gruesome burning death of a man on Halloween night said Monday that it appears the man may have accidentally started the fire himself while trying to light a cigarette.

According to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Det. Richard Biddle, a bystander recounted seeing the victim, Gilbert Estrada, accidentally ignite the hood of his Halloween costume with a cigarette lighter. When Estrada pulled the hood off his head, the flames spread to his back, eventually engulfing his whole body, the bystander said.

A video posted on YouTube shows Estrada in a ball of flame flailing through a crowd of people dancing at the annual Halloween festival in West Hollywood. A bystander recorded the scene with a cellphone camera and posted it on the video website.

Estrada, whose family told police that he attended the festival every year, was dressed as a sniper in camouflage, Biddle said. His costume apparently was made of burlap sacks and straw.

“It's really thin and flammable, “ Biddle said. “That stuff could ignite pretty fast.”

Biddle said detectives have not yet closed their investigation and are waiting for the results of an autopsy.

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Twitter: @katelinthicum

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