Deputies pull unconscious man from burning Pico Rivera apartment; arson suspected

PICO RIVERA — Two deputies pulled an unconscious man from a smoke-filled apartment Wednesday during a fire officials said appeared to have been set intentionally.
The rescued man and the two deputies were all taken to a hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation following the incident, which took place about 1:30 a.m. at an apartment complex in the 8600 block of Whittier Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Smith said.
The deputies were released from the hospital later in the morning, while the 51-year-old man they pulled from the home remained hospitalized in serious but stable condition, Smith said.
Deputies Michael Calderon and George Madrid were the first on-scene, the lieutenant said.
“(They) saw thick black smoke inside the apartment and billowing out,” he said.
Neighbors were running from the fire, and one of them told the deputies that there was a man inside the burning apartment, Smith said.
“Basically disregarding their own safety, the deputies entered the unit and found an unconscious male on the ground,” the lieutenant said. “They scooped him up and they dragged him out to safety.”
Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, which remained confined to items inside the apartment and caused an estimated $1,000 worth of damage, Smith said.
The fire stemmed from flammable materials, “like papers and different things,” left on a burning stove range, the lieutenant said. It initially appeared to have been an intentional act, and investigators from the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Unit were were summoned to the scene.
The injured man was alone in the apartment when the deputies arrived, Smith said. But whether he himself started the fire remained under investigation.

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