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Man rescued from South L.A. fire dies, 17th fire fatality this year

FiresLos Angeles Fire Department
Man dies a day after South L.A. fire, 17th fire fatality in the city this year
With 17 fire deaths this year, fire department stresses the need for working alarms

A 60-year-old man who was gravely injured in a fire in his South Park duplex on Monday died Tuesday in a local hospital, authorities said.

It was the 17th fire-related fatality in Los Angeles this year, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The blaze, reported about 1:30 a.m. in the 200 block of West 50th Street, was likely caused by a cigarette, officials said. When firefighters arrived, they found the man, who was a smoker, inside, no longer breathing. He regained a pulse on the way to a local hospital, where he was being treated for third-degree burns and respiratory problems.

The man's home had two fire alarms, but the wiring was improper and the alarms had no battery backups, according to the LAFD. A neighbor was seen running from her residence next door, and firefighters determined that her smoke alarms hadn't been working either.

Monday's fire prompted department officials to canvass the neighborhood, urging residents to replace batteries in smoke alarms.

The majority of those who died in fires in the city this year were in structures without functioning fire alarms. 

After 13 such deaths in the first three months of the year, the Fire Department launched the Smoke Alarm Field Education program, in which it distributes free smoke alarms.

LAPD spokesman Jaime Moore said the elderly and those whose houses are crowded with belongings are particularly vulnerable to home fires, but functioning fire alarms make all the difference.

Without working fire alarms, he said, "the dangers multiply exponentially, because now you don’t have an early warning system. You don’t have anything to let you know, 'Hey, something's going on here, you better get out.'" 

For breaking news in Los Angeles and the Southland, follow @Caitlin__Owens, or email her at caitlin.owens@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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