Los Angeles City firefighters battling a fire at a single-family home in Westchester early Tuesday, February 14th, found an elderly woman dead inside the home.
The woman was found by firefighters during a “detailed search of the home,” but the circumstances of her death are under investigation, said Brian Humphrey, city fire department spokesman.
No other injuries were reported.
County coroner officials have not yet been able to identify the woman due to the condition of the body, a coroner’s office spokesman said.
Neighbors said that the home, at 8407 Ramsgate Ave. in Westchester, has belonged to Deborah Strehlow, 64, for many years.
Forty Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) firefighters were called to the home at 2:49 a.m. and saw the one-story structure “fully engulfed in flames,” Humphrey said.
One firefighter reported that the fire was already burning through the roof by the time firefighters arrived.
Two Los Angeles City Fire Department rescue ambulances, three arson units and a canine unit with a specially-trained dog were also called to the scene.
Firefighters initially began an “aggressive attack” on the interior of the residence and extended hand lines into the home, Humphrey said.
Other firefighters conducted coordinated ventilation operations on the roof to help contain the fire.
“Firefighters simultaneously went to the roof with chainsaws and axes to remove some of the roof and allow the flames to escape vertically,” Humphrey said.
During a simultaneous search of the home, firefighters located the woman lying in the hallway near the living room, fire officials said.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene, Humphrey said.
The fire was contained in about 19 minutes, but firefighters remained on the scene for about four more hours, he said.
A passerby in the neighborhood reportedly saw the flames from blocks away and drove down the street honking her horn to alert neighbors, he said.
One neighbor told television reporters that he attempted to enter the home through a window to try to get the woman out, but he was unable to do so because the “fire was so intense.”
The cause of death of the woman is expected to be determined within the next few days, the coroner spokesman said.
The house was destroyed by the flames, but the cost of the damage is yet to be estimated, Humphrey said.
While the cause of the fire is under investigation, fire officials said the fire appears to have been accidental.