The deaths of a man and woman whose bodies were found at a burning home in Sylmar, where a large cache of ammunition was set off by the blaze, are being investigated as a possible murder-suicide, police said Monday.
After the first calls about the Sunday fire came in at 4:42 a.m., several neighbors called 911 to report gunshots, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement.
Firefighters heard what sounded like rapid gunfire as they were forced to battle the intense blaze from a distance at the home in the 13700 block of North Glenoaks Boulevard. The sound was coming from thousands of rounds of ammunition that exploded, fueling the blaze, fire officials said.
Crews battled heavy flames spreading from the rear of the residence to two other structures on the 1.6-acre property.
Arson investigators believe the fire, which nearly destroyed three structures at the property, was deliberately set, said L.A. Fire Department Capt. Adam VanGerpen.
After firefighters got control of the blaze in a little over an hour, they found the body of a woman in a swimming pool. A man and a dog were also found dead in the rubble, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
The woman was identified as Phyllis Ann Patterson, 68, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. Property records indicated she was a resident of the home.
The man has not been identified publicly.
Causes of death have not yet been determined, but LAPD Officer Drake Madison said the case was being investigated as a murder-suicide. He declined to state whether Patterson or the unidentified man was believed to be the murder victim.
The deaths are being investigated by Valley Bureau homicide detectives, he said.
Thousands of rounds of ammunition and multiple firearms were found at the scene, police and fire officials said.
“I saw at least two [of] what appeared to be automatic weapons — a rifle, ammunition lined up,” LAFD Capt. Erik Scott told KTLA-TV Channel 5.
No injuries to firefighters were reported.