Three people lost their lives in a tire shop in South El Monte, California, on Saturday, the 25th of April, 2015, at 5:30 a.m. after a fire that apparently started from a Molotov cocktail. One of the firefighters also suffered from second-degree facial burns while attempting to cut through a fence and save a man. However, he was released in the same day, after being treated in a local hospital and his condition was reported to be stable.
The firefighters arrived immediately after a 911 call was made at Cheque Tires at 1252 Santa Anita Avenue, just before dawn. When they got there, at least one of the victims was alive. There was a man, whose name and age are unknown yet, standing behind locked gates and desperately trying to get out and escape the fire. The members of the fire department could not reach him soon enough to save him from the flames not only because the gate was locked but also because a cement block wall with razor wire stood between him and the members of the fire department, according to sheriff’s Detective Victor Lewandowski. His injuries eventually overwhelmed him and it was too late to do anything for him. The bodies of other two victims were discovered only after the firefighters managed to extinguish the flames.
According to Grace Medrano, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, it is not known yet what the names of the other victims are either. The state of the bodies did not allow them to establish neither their gender nor their age.
Arson investigators are currently working with homicide detectives to establish if the fire at Cheque Tires was set intentionally. This possibility hasn’t been ruled out yet because it was reported that the person who called 911, announcing that the building was ablaze, also saw a Molotov cocktail inside the tire shop. Other witnesses said that they saw a white Chevrolet Silverado driving away from the scene at the exact time about the same time the fire started.
A Molotov cocktail is a glass bottle which has a flammable substance in it, usually containing petrol, motor oil and a source that ensures ignition. When the bottle breaks on impact with the ground, the petrol ignites and results in a fireball, leading to massive fire while the rest of the fuel is burned.
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