Woman dies in Van Nuys house fire
A 79-year-old woman died early Friday after fire swept through her Van Nuys home, authorities said.
The woman, whose name was not immediately released, was found near her front door next to her dog and was taken to a hospital, where she died.
“She collapsed five feet from her escape,” said Battalion Chief Steve Ruda of the Los Angeles Fire Department. “Her dog died by her side.”
Ruda said the woman lived alone “in semi-pack rat conditions” with numerous pets in the approximately 1,500 square foot home in the 14600 block of West Leadwell Street.
Animal control officers were on the scene, as were arson investigators who were working to identify the cause of the blaze, which apparently began in the kitchen sometime before 5 a.m.
“She was a very nice woman. She just gave me a bunch of oranges three days ago,” said a neighbor, Molly Schori. “She lived with all her animals. She was kind of a junk collector.”
Ruda said the only smoke detector in the home was in the corner of a bedroom--not near the door, where fire officials recommend they be.
“It was as far away from the fire as it could be,” he said.
-- Mike Anton
Photo: An arson investigator at the scene of a residential fire in Van Nuys, where a 79-year-old woman died early Friday morning. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times