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Downtown Los Angeles apartment fire kills woman, injures husband, son

Firefighters investigate the cause of a fatal apartment fire in Chinatown.
Firefighters investigate the cause of a fatal apartment fire in Chinatown. NBC LA

Los Angeles Fire Department officials say a fire in a downtown apartment near Chinatown killed a woman in her 80s and left her husband and adult son in critical condition.

Department spokesman Brian Humphrey says the blaze on the top floor of a two-story apartment complex was reported at about 6 p.m. Wednesday, and it took 44 firefighters about 13 minutes to knock it down.

He says the woman was pulled from the apartment and later died at a hospital. Her husband and son were able to get out on their own, but remain hospitalized with burns and smoke inhalation, the LAFD said.

Joe Zhang told NBC LA that he rushed up to the apartment and tried to get something to cover his mouth to protect him from the heavy smoke that was billowing from the apartment.

"There was too much smoke so I couldn't really help," Zhang told the television station.

The names and ages of the victims have not been made public. Investigators are trying to determine what sparked the flames.

Though the two bedroom apartment contained three smoke alarms, it is not known if they were working. The 46 year-old building was not equipped with fire sprinklers.

No firefighters were hurt. Damage was estimated at $31,500.

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