Man found dead after tent fire on L.A. skid row

A man in a homeless encampment in downtown Los Angeles’ skid row was found dead Thursday after a tent fire.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a rubbish fire just after 5 p.m. in the 700 block of Towne Avenue, according to spokesman Nicholas Prange. He said that officials found a man in his 60s already deceased when they arrived.

Prange said that the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Estela Lopez, executive director of the L.A. Downtown Industrial District business improvement district, said the tent was part of a small homeless encampment.

Lopez said a security team that’s contracted by the district first spotted the smoke and responded to the fire, trying unsuccessfully to extinguish it.


“LAFD was called immediately, and we were just trying to hold it down while they arrived,” she said.

Fires are a danger often faced by people living in homeless encampments. There were 2,500 fires involving the homeless community throughout L.A. in 2018, double the number the city saw in 2017. Those included arson and accidental fires caused by people cooking or warming themselves.

In 2019, a string of attacks involving fire or incendiary devices left homeless people dead or injured and entire encampments scorched.

Lopez said that there are tent fires in the area on a daily basis and that the district’s public safety and maintenance teams are equipped with fire extinguishers for that reason.

“This time we weren’t there in time,” she said. “It just breaks my heart today to see that this happened.”

Times staff writer James Queally contributed to this report.