Boyle Heights -- A fiery two-vehicle crash this morning that left two people critically injured was triggered by police pursuing a driver who nearly crashed into a patrol vehicle, authorities said.

The near-collision happened in the area of Seventh and Marietta streets and sparked a pursuit that lasted about 30 seconds, according to Officer Mike Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department's Media Relations Section.

The chase ended when the suspect's vehicle, a gold 2000 Toyota Solara, struck another vehicle, causing the Toyota to overturn and catch fire, Lopez said.

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Firefighters and paramedics were dispatched at 8:54 a.m. to the crash in the 800 block of South Spence Street, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported.

Firefighters knocked down the auto fire. Officers and firefighters were able to extract the motorist and his passenger, a man who was unconscious inside the Toyota, Lopez said.

Paramedics rushed two people in critical condition to an area hospital, said Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

No officers were injured and the two people in the third vehicle had only complaints of pain and were not hospitalized, Lopez said

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