West Hollywood burn victim may have accidentally started the fire


A detective investigating the gruesome burning death of a man on Halloween night said Monday that it appears the man may have accidentally started the fire himself while trying to light a cigarette.

According to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Det. Richard Biddle, a bystander recounted seeing the victim, Gilbert Estrada, accidentally ignite the hood of his Halloween costume with a cigarette lighter. When Estrada pulled the hood off his head, the flames spread to his back, eventually engulfing his whole body, the bystander said.

A video posted on YouTube shows Estrada in a ball of flame flailing through a crowd of people dancing at the annual Halloween festival in West Hollywood. A bystander recorded the scene with a cellphone camera and posted it on the video website.


Estrada, whose family told police that he attended the festival every year, was dressed as a sniper in camouflage, Biddle said. His costume apparently was made of burlap sacks and straw.

“It’s really thin and flammable, “ Biddle said. “That stuff could ignite pretty fast.”

Biddle said detectives have not yet closed their investigation and are waiting for the results of an autopsy.

Estrada’s family has established an online fundraiser to raise money for his funeral.


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Twitter: @katelinthicum