Car Dealership Fire Kills Man in Office

The burned body of a man was found in the office of a Panorama City used car dealership that was damaged by fire early Monday, the Los Angeles City Fire Department reported.

The fire was reported at 3:30 a.m. at K-9 Motors in the 8800 block of Woodman Avenue, said Fire Department spokesman Greg Acevedo. The fire caused an estimated $120,000 damage to the two-story office and garage and to several cars parked nearby, he said.

Investigators said the victim, who was not identified, was apparently a dealership employee who fell asleep on a bed in the office while smoking. The fire spread through the office when he tried to get out. About 25 firefighters responded to the blaze, which was extinguished in 25 minutes.

"It was strictly an accidental death," Fire Inspector Ed Reed said. "The victim was a smoker and apparently caught himself on fire."

Los Angeles Police Detective Marshall White said the victim, believed to be in his 40s, had no identification and the owner of the dealership could not be located Monday to identify him. White said that because a bed and other personal belongings were in one room of the office, it was believed the victim had been allowed to stay there as a means of providing security.

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