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Molotov Cocktail Fire Kills At Least 3 in South El Monte

At least three people are said to have been killed on Saturday when someone threw a Molotov cocktail and set off a deadly fire in a South El Monte tire shop.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and found the family-owned business fully engulfed in flames.

Officials told CBS2’s Joy Benedict that when they arrived they found a man inside the building alive, however they weren’t able to reach him because he was behind a locked fence.

The victim was later pronounced dead. Unconfirmed reports said the victim may have possibly been a teenager.

A firefighter suffered minor, second degree burns while trying to break down the locked fence CBS reported. The 12-year-old veteran of the force was later released from the hospital but declined to comment for interviews.

“This isn’t about me,” he told reporters as they tried eagerly to speak with him. “I’m just glad I can go home to my kids.”

Other firefighters insist the man should be recognized for his actions.

“When he was cutting with his equipment he had flames and smoke in his face, almost to the point where he couldn’t see what he was doing,” L.A. County Fire Department Inspector Chris Reade told CBS local news.

“When the investigation does continue,” said CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Greg Mills, “is there a chance there could be more bodies?”

“We’re going through there and we’re removing more of the rubble, so there is always that chance,” Reade said.

During the investigation, firefighters discovered two additional bodies of adults.

The tire El Monte tire shop is located at 1252 North Santa Anita Road.

Fire officials describe the blaze as being so intense that it started to melt some of their protective equipment. Witnesses report the fire began shortly before 5:30 a.m. They told an emergency dispatcher three men ran from the scene after one of them threw a Molotov cocktail at the shop.

Detective are officially calling this tragic event an arson/homicide.

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