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HMG-CN Exclusive: Eyewitness Account – With Photos – of Cerritos Car Fire Fatality


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ABOVE: A fireman prepares to extinguish the flames of the Toyota on Denni St. in Cerritos. Afterward, it was determined that the burned occupant was a 55 year-old man from La Palma. Several gas cans were found inside the car.


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By Brian Hews

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide and Arson investigators are continuing their investigation into the death of a 55 year-old man who died in a car fire on Sunday in the 7800 block of Denni Street, Cerritos.

At approximately 7:47 AM, deputies and Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel responded to the call. When they arrived, they discovered a 1999 Toyota Corolla parked along the west curb and engulfed in flames.  The Los Angeles County Fire Department extinguished the fire.

Upon closer inspection, the victim was discovered deceased inside the front seat area of the vehicle.

At this time, it is unknown why or how the fire started, but several gas cans were located in the interior of the vehicle.

Eyewitnesses who saw the tragic incident approached HMG-CN to tell the story.

Both said they were traumatized after learning a body was in the car.

They wanted to remain anonymous.

One eyewitness was coming home from work, the other was completing a construction job on the street.

They both noticed the car and thought it “unusual” since normally there is no parking on the street due to Cerritos parking regulations.

The two approached the car and noticed what looked like steam escaping from the windows. Once they got closer, “you could smell it was some kind of fire.”

“The motor was running too,” said one eyewitness.

At that moment the two decided to break into the car and grabbed a toolbox to break the windows.

They first broke out the passenger window, followed by the driver’s side window.

With airflow into the car the flames became more pronounced.

“We could see the body at that point it was laying across the front seat, head on the passenger seat, feet on the driver’s seat, fire had not engulfed the body yet, but the rest of the interior was in flames, he was not screaming, so he must have been unconscious.”

The two, along with a La Palma police officer, attempted to remove the body “but it was just too hot.”

LAFD arrived minutes later to put the fire out.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

Twitter: @cerritosnews












  • Rancho Verdes Walker says:

    Candlelight vigil was started Tuesday evening, 12/22; along with flowers. Grew in size on Wednesday morning, 12/23; but somebody has stolen the candlelight vigil on Wednesday morning. Street is still full of debris from melted car parts.

  • Sharon St. says:

    Why has the sheriff and city, been quiet about the ID. The man is an african american, neighbor to LAPD Doran, who was gun down in Mt cabin, several yrs ago? Why is both Cerritos and La Palma, scared to talk about a man from Ethiopia, African, it is one of 50 states in Africa.
    Disgusting, compared to the black dad, who drowned at Regional Park, another victim, the sheriff was scarred to ID, cause of race.