A 91-year-old man was killed in a duplex fire in the Pico-Robertson area Tuesday morning, officials said.
The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a blaze at 850 S. Bedford St. about 9:50 a.m.
Smoke from the fire was so extensive, firefighters had to cut a hole in the roof to get some of the heat and smoke out, Capt. Erik Scott said.
During the firefight, officials found the victim unresponsive in the kitchen. He was pulled out of the home and taken to a hospital, where he was eventually pronounced dead, Scott said. He has not been identified.
The blaze was knocked down in about 15 minutes, but "excessive storage" hampered firefighters' abilities to do so, according to Scott.
He said officials have not found a working smoke alarm inside.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but it does not appear to be suspicious, Scott said.
Eddie Hernandez was driving by when he saw the smoke from the home. He said he pulled over and knocked on the door of other homes, alerting residents of the nearby blaze.
"The flames were completely coming out of the door," Hernandez recalled. "We tried getting close and figuring out how to break windows or something, but it started popping and exploding and the smoke was very heavy."
He said he tried to break windows to get in, but he wasn't able to. He stayed at the scene until firefighters got there, and he directed them to the back unit where the fire was still raging.
"There was nothing you could do. The smoke was just completely enclosed, it was very heavy smoke," Hernandez said. "I feel horrible right now because I know there was somebody in there."
NeighborJoseph Shamir said he had just been speaking to the victim in the yard before heading out for the day. He said he got a call from his wife 10 minutes after he had left about the blaze at their home.
He said he has no idea what could have caused the fire.
"I am really puzzled because he was not a smoker," Shamir said about the victim.
He described the victim as a "nice quiet man" who lived alone, enjoyed listening to classical music and painting.