Three people were found dead in a tire shop in South El Monte on Saturday morning after a fire that may have been started by a Molotov cocktail, fire officials said.
At least one of the victims was alive when rescuers arrived just before dawn at Cheque Tires at 1252 Santa Anita Ave., according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Grace Medrano.
"When firefighters arrived, they saw a man behind heavily locked gates trying to escape the fire," Medrano said. "They tried to rescue him but couldn't reach him before he was overcome by his injuries."
Medrano said officials haven't determined the age or gender of the two other victims whose bodies were discovered after the blaze was extinguished.
Homicide and arson investigators are working to determine whether the blaze was set intentionally.
A 911 caller who reported the fire said he saw someone throw a Molotov cocktail inside the tire shop, Medrano said. She said witnesses reported seeing a white Chevrolet Silverado leaving the scene at the time of the fire.
One firefighter was treated and released from a local hospital after suffering burns to his face, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman Robert Diaz.