An unattended candle was suspected of causing a fast-moving fire, aided by pack-rat conditions, that ripped through a Monterey Park home early Tuesday morning, fire officials said.
Firefighters responded to reports of a blaze at a home in the 800 block of Hershey Avenue (map) around 1:20 a.m., Monterey Park Fire Department officials said.
Upon arrival, firefighters found a single-family home "fully involved" with flames, Battalion Chief Ken Leasure said.
“Unfortunately, the first arriving units reported we had heavy, what we call 'pack-rat conditions' right to the front door of the structure," Leasure said. "In conjunction with heavy fire and smoke, it made for a very untenable environment for first arriving crews."
Firefighters entered the home after being told a resident may be inside, but did not locate anyone. The fire was knocked down in about 15 minutes, Leasure said.
A mentally challenged man lived at the home with his brother, who was not located at the residence.
“The mentally challenged adult was residing at the residence unattended. …. When the brother left at approximately 8 o’clock, he was lighting candles in the house,” Leasure said.
An unattended candle was believed to have started the blaze.
The man was able to get out of the home before firefighters arrived. He was hospitalised after possibly suffering smoke inhalation.
An investigation was underway, and investigators said it was unclear if there were working smoke detectors in the home because it was so badly damaged.