Fatality investigation

An investigation is underway in Whittier, where two people were found dead in a fire that damaged a converted garage in the 13500 block of Via Del Palma. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times / January 2, 2014)

Two bodies were discovered inside an apartment-like structure above a garage in Whittier after a fire broke out there early Thursday morning.

Police and fire personnel responded to the 13500 block of Via Del Palma Avenue around 7:20 a.m. to what authorities described as an apartment-like structure above a garage. Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Keith Mora said firefighters found the structure “fully involved” upon arrival. Firefighters knocked down the fire around 7:25 a.m., he said.

During the preliminary search, authorities found two adults in the back room of the structure. Both were pronounced dead at the scene, Mora said. The victims' age and gender were not immediately known.

Mora said the cause of the fire is also unclear. He did not rule out arson.

“Anytime there’s a fire of unknown origin we do check every avenue,” he said.

Mora said investigators have not ruled out the possibility of suicide, homicide, arson or any other possible cause of the fire.

“They will not make that determination until we know that for sure,” Mora said. “It’s always a possibility that you had people that were asleep. It could have been something electrical – it could have been a Christmas tree.”

Although there is a house in front of the garage, no other property was damaged by the fire, Mora said. He said most of the damage was isolated to the area of the apartment where the victims were discovered.   


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Twitter: @MattStevensLAT