A World War II veteran was killed when flames swept through his Mount Washington home, making him the ninth fire fatality in Los Angeles this year, authorities said Saturday.
The fire broke out just before 10 p.m. Friday at 533 West Avenue 44, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Hours later, the man who died was identified as 89-year-old Francisco Hernandez, according to family members.
A recipient of the Purple Heart medal, Hernandez was a long-time L.A. resident, one of his relatives told KTLA 5.
Firefighters said he was living in pack-rat conditions, and they urged residents to check on elderly neighbors.
“We gotta look after them. We gotta make sure the pack-rat conditions that they sometimes live in, have to be corrected,” said fire Capt. Stephen Ruda.
Hernandez lived alone, a relative said.
He was fiercely independent and had even told volunteers from Meals on Wheels not to return to his home.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
It was unclear if there was a fire alarm in Hernandez’s house.