Body found inside burning garage, firefighters reported pack-rat conditions

WINNETKA - The body of a 61-year-old man was discovered Monday by Los Angeles firefighters putting out a blaze at in a detached garage that had been converted into a home in Winnetka and was plagued by pack-rat conditions,
authorities said.

The fire in the 7000 block of Sunny Brae Avenue was reported about 4:10 a.m., said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott.

Firefighters found a body inside the garage as they were putting out the flames, which they did in 17 minutes, he said. LAFD arson investigators were dispatched to the scene to determine the cause of the blaze, Scott said.

Damage was estimated at $30,000 to the structure and $10,000 to the contents.

"There was no immediate evidence of a functional smoke alarm within the garage," the LAFD said in a statement. "There was one door as an exit, and excessive storage inside. No security door or window bars were present to impede egress. The garage was not equipped with residential fire sprinklers."

The victim was a longtime friend of the property owners and was living amid pack-rat conditions, LAFD Fire Battalion Chief Steve Ruda said. His name was withheld, pending family notification.

Investigators were working to determine if the garage had been converted for residential use legally, the fire department reported.

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