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Mount Washington Fire Claims Life of World War II Vet

The body of a man found in a house on the slopes of Mount Washington was identified by relatives Saturday as an 89-year-old World War II Purple Heart recipient.

Francisco Hernandez took park in the Normandy invasion in World War II, staying in a foxhole for a week after coming ashore. He was awarded a Purple Heart for suffering a gunshot wound to his leg, Maya Hoo, Hernandez’s niece, told The Los Angeles Times.

Hernandez was found after firefighters had extinguished the blaze on the 500 block of West Avenue 44, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fire in the 625-square foot house was reported around 9:50 p.m. Friday and took 48 firefighters 40 minutes to knock down, Humphrey said.

Erik Scott of the Los Angeles City Fire Department told The Times that investigators were looking into whether Hernandez had a working smoke alarm. Hoo told The Times that she brought up a smoke alarm with her uncle, but that he refused to install one into the tiny cottage he lived in for the last 40 years.