A man in a downtown Los Angeles homeless settlement was found dead Thursday after a tent burned down.
The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a garbage fire just after 5 p.m. in the 700 block of Towne Avenue, according to spokesperson Nicholas Prange. He said authorities found a man in his 60s who had already died on arrival.
Prange said the cause of the fire was under investigation.
Estela Lopez, executive director of the Downtown LA Industrial District Business Improvement District, said the tent was part of a small homeless settlement.
Lopez said a security team hired by the district first spotted the smoke and responded to the blaze, unsuccessfully trying to put it out.
“LAFD was called immediately, and we were just trying to hold him down while they arrived,” she said.
Fires are a danger often faced by people living in homeless settlements. There were 2,500 fires involving the homeless community across Los Angeles in 2018, double the number the city saw in 2017. These included arson and accidental fires caused by people who cook or heat up.
In 2019, a series of attacks involving fires or incendiary devices left homeless people dead or injured and entire settlements burned down.
Lopez said there were tent fires in the area on a daily basis and that district public safety and maintenance teams were equipped with fire extinguishers for this reason.
“This time we weren’t there on time,” she says. “It breaks my heart today to see that this has happened.”
Times writer James Queally contributed to this report.