A mother and child are missing after an auto mechanic's shop in Compton became engulfed in flames and the converted loft space above it collapsed in the two-alarm blaze, officials said.
The fire, reported about 2 a.m., had fully engulfed the roof by the time firefighters arrived at the building in the 4300 block of East Compton Boulevard, Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Scott Miller said.
The mechanic and five family members lived in the converted loft space on top of the auto shop. Miller described the loft as having "pack rat-like conditions with heavy content."
The father and three children were able to escape before firefighters arrived, but the mother and child may have been be trapped in the building, Miller said.
A search-and-rescue team attempted to enter the space, but the structure was deemed to be unsound. Officials are now using cadaver dogs to search the premises, Miller said.
"It's a lengthy process with the amount of debris," he said. "But we are taking every measure."
Automotive parts and debris clogged the living quarters, causing the blaze to burn longer and hotter, and the loft to collapse, he added.
It took fire crews 90 minutes to contain the fire. One firefighter was taken to a local hospital and treated for unspecified injuries, said Robert Diaz, supervising fire dispatcher at the L.A. County Fire Department.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.