Man found dead in burned apartment

July 11, 2008 4:43:19 PM PDT
A man's body has been found inside a Pasadena apartment after fire tore through the building early this morning.The fire broke out at the complex on Richey near West Jackson around 4:30am. At least four fire departments were battling the blaze.

It's believed the fire was started by a resident who was smoking in bed. That man's body was later found inside the apartment where the blaze broke out, along with the body of a cat.

Firefighters battled the monster fire for nearly five hours. About half of the unts at the three-story Brighton Hill apartment complex suffered damage.

One apartment resident told us she woke up to people screaming for her to get out.

"I didn't hear anything. I didn't smell anything," said resident Dalia Martinez. "All of the sudden, they just woke us up screaming. We just got our stuff and ran until we came across the street and we saw the fire."

Arson investigators say the fire began in a first-floor unit, and spread quickly all the way to the third floor. That's where a natural gas line ruptured, feeding the flames.

"That was not the cause of the fire," explained Pasadena Fire Marshal David Brannon. "That was maybe a rupture in a pipe or something during the evolution of the fire. But that was not in the area of origin, in the apartment of origin."

The complex was built in the late 1960s. Newer fire codes require sprinklers on new construction. Buildings of this age, though, are exempt. As a result, a dozen apartments were gutted by fire. For now, the entire building is sealed off. But one resident, whose possessions are still intact, says she plans to move on.

"A couple of months ago, Compton Courts went up, and now this one," said resident Priscilla Martinez. "I really want to get out of apartments."

A dozen families are being relocated in the complex. The dead man's identity has not been released.

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