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California

Firefighters search smoldering ruins of Mt. Washington mansion for missing owner

Firefighters were searching through the smoldering ashes of a Mt. Washington mansion Friday morning for signs of its owner, who was last seen running toward his bedroom after the fire erupted.

Firefighters were searching through the smoldering ashes of a Mt. Washington mansion Friday morning, looking for the possible remains of its owner, who was last seen running toward his bedroom when the fire erupted.

“We will continue to stabilize the building and search the premises to determine if he is inside,” said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey.

Fire officials said there were a dozen people living at the home, including the 84-year-old owner. Neighbors described a “rotating residency” there, Humphrey said.

The fire was reported about 8:30 p.m. in the 4000 block of North Sea View Avenue at 9,100 square-foot home on a steep hillside.

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Flames overtook the three-story home, and about 9:15 p.m., an explosion was reported. Aerial footage from KCBS-TV Channel 2 showed blue-colored flames shooting from the structure.

At least one person was injured: A 74-year-old woman who suffered from smoke inhalation. Humphrey said she was in fair condition.

It took almost three hours for 143 firefighters to knock down the blaze, which Humphrey said was a “very difficult firefight” with cactus surrounding the steep hillside home.

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At one point three helicopters circled, surveying the property and monitoring whether embers ignited nearby brush.

Daniel Nateras of Oxnard said he was one of the home’s tenants. A roommate alerted Nateras to the fire, saying that it had started in a lower floor, he recalled.

After learning of the fire, the 84-year-old landlord ran toward his bedroom and did not come out, Nateras said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The home was largely destroyed and Humphrey said fire crews must be careful the remaining structure doesn’t collapse as they search the scene.

The Department of Building and Safety was called to the scene to help stabilize the structure and determine whether nearby homes were in any danger.

On the narrow, winding street — characteristic of Mt. Washington, a neighborhood northeast of downtown Los Angeles — tenants cried and embraced Thursday night.

“They were very emotional,” Humphrey said.

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ben.poston@latimes.com

Follow @bposton on Twitter.

Times staff writer Matt Hamilton contributed to this story.

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