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Man Found Dead In East LA House Fire Labeled Suspicious

EAST LOS ANGELES (CBSLA)  -- A man was found dead inside a burning home in East Los Angeles Friday and authorities said it was no accident.

KCAL9's Joy Benedict spoke to stunned and sad neighbors.

One thing was noticeable at the scene. The fire department wasn't there. Benedict said they left hours earlier leaving the investigation to homicide detectives.

LA County Sheriff's said the fire and the man's death were "suspicious."

"Just a big explosion with fire," said David Nicholas.

It was a terrifying moment for neighbors in East LA. Firefighters were called to the scene about 9:30 a.m.

"I was thinking about my girlfriend and she was crying and screaming," he added.

Firefighters rushed to put out the flames in a make shift apartment on Fetterly Avenue. The converted storage room, was in the back of the property of bungalows where Nicholas lives -- he had just woken up.

"There people who see the fire and scream. When they scream everybody was oh what's happening?" Nicholas said.

Thankfully, Nichols got out but the man who lived in the storage room where investigators says the fire started was dead when firefighters arrived.

"He was alone and an alone person," Nicholas said.

LA Sherrif's Deputies described the victim as a Latino adult. His age was not given.

But as fire investigators tried to find a cause they quickly realized this was no accident and eventually handed the case over to the LA County Sheriff's department which is calling this death suspicious. But they aren't ready to say why.

"We  have to get more info about this investigation because it's weird," says Nicholas.

The fire damaged the apartment next to the storage room and a home on a nearby property leaving many in this community on edge.

"These houses are old and I'm afraid it could have gotten to our house," said neighbor Vicki Bleazard.

And with investigators not saying much about a motive neighbors like Nicolas are fearful this won't be the only suspicious fire on their street.

"If this happened today," he said, "what is next?"

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