Two Mission Hills men pulled their 94-year-old neighbor from a burning garage behind a home on Wednesday morning, and all three were injured, fire officials said.
The fire was reported about 9:45 a.m. in the 14900 block of Brand Boulevard (map), according to Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Jose Cronenbold.
It was sparked when the 94-year-old tried to start an older-model pickup truck in a detached garage when the vehicle backfired, witnesses told the Fire Department, according to an LAFD blog post.
Despite the pleas of bystanders, the elderly man went back into the garage after flames erupted, collapsing inside.
The two neighbors, one with a fire extinguisher, pulled the man to safety and put out his burning clothes before firefighters arrived, the blog post stated. They were injured during the rescue.
The garage’s owner sustained third-degree burns to more than 90 percent of his body and was considered to be in grave condition.
The two rescuers were also hospitalized. A 32 year-old was in fair condition, suffering from exposure to heat and smoke, while a 63 year-old man in serious condition, after sustaining second-degree burns to his arms and face, the post said.
It took 37 firefighters 16 minutes to knock down the blaze, which was confined to the garage.
Piles of charred wood remained on the ground in front of the burned structure as firefighters continued to work, video from the scene showed.
A silver Nissan Cube bearing a disabled placard that was at the scene appeared to have a melted bumper.
Investigators said the fire was caused by combustible items in the garage that were ignited by the truck’s exhaust backfire.
Correction: Fire officials initially reported the age of the elderly victim as 90 years old. His age was later updated to 94. The story has been updated to reflect the change.