A car parked on Portia Street in Echo Park burst into flame early this morning a week after an SUV caught fire down the block.
Firefighters quickly put out today’s blaze, which was reported at about 2 a.m. in the 1300 block of Portia. The cause of the fire was unknown but Capt. Armando Valencia with LAFD Station No. 20 told residents at the scene that the blaze appeared “suspicious.”
Some residents fear that the two vehicles were intentionally set on fire. In addition, several recycling and trash bins and mattresses have also been found burned on Portia and nearby streets in recent weeks. LAPD Senior Lead Officer Gina Chovan, however, told The Eastsider on Monday that the fire department did not view last week’s vehicle fire as an act of arson. While residents have seen scorched trash bins and mattresses, no reports have been filed with the fire or police departments, she said.
Portia Street residents expressed concern and frustration after once again being awakened in the middle of the night to find a car engulfed in flames.
Eli Glad said he heard a couple of booms and went out into the street to find a Chevy Cavalier, owned by a friend who was staying with him, “fully ignited.”
Another resident said he was awakened by the sound of two booms and raised voices. “I thought it was a gunshot,” said the man, who saw smoke and embers when he looked out his window. He also said he saw a car traveling in reverse down the street but it’s not clear if the occupants of the vehicle were involved with the fire or had simply been driving by.
“What can we do?,” asked one resident concerned about the potential for more fires. But Valencia said that without a witness, it would be hard to catch the person involved if the fires had been set intentionally.
*Update: Senior Lead Officer Chovan said that the fire department today assigned an arson investigator to look into the Echo Park fires. Anyone who sees evidence of trash, mattress or any other fire is asked to report it to the police or the fire department.