A family living next door to the abandoned Boyle Heights home destroyed by an early Tuesday morning blaze has launched an online fundraiser, saying their home and car were also caught on fire.
“Today my house is completely destroyed,” wrote Luis Mendoza on the gofundme fundraiser page. “My family made it out safely but unfortunately my home and car got caught on fire. We have no where to go. My family has a total of eight members and five dogs.”
In the fundraiser appeal, Mendoza alleges he filed a police report in the past, alerting the LAPD of homeless squatters who had previously set fires in the abandoned building, but that his effort had been “useless.”
Boyle Heights Beat attempted unsuccessfully to reach Mendoza for a comment.
Firefighters received a call at 2:55 a.m. on Tuesday about a structure fire at 2433 East Folsom Street. According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, it took 41 firefighters 21 minutes to put out the flames.
Local TV station KTLA 5 reported live from the scene early Tuesday and said dozens of families were forced to evacuate their homes in close proximity to the fire. About 30 evacuees were taken to a shelter at nearby Sheridan Street Elementary School.
A neighbor who spoke with Telemundo 52 also said she reported the squatters to the police.
“The homeless people living next door have set the house on fire on various occasions,” said Elizabeth López. “I told the police many times what was going on, but unfortunately they never wanted to do anything because it was not my property.”
It was unclear if López and Mendoza were related or if they lived in separate homes.
As of Thursday evening, Mendoza had raised about $2,300 of the $20,000 he hopes to raise to pay for the damages and to find temporary housing. The GoFundMe link to donate is available here.