Three Firefighters Injured While Battling Blaze; Body Found

AP Wire Service

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Three firefighters were injured by possible gunfire early Tuesday while battling a blaze at a San Fernando Valley home where investigators later found the body of a man and a shotgun, authorities said.

The blaze was reported about 2:30 a.m. in Northridge and was fought by helicopter after several blasts forced firefighters to retreat.

Firefighter Yandell Bishop, 42, of Los Angeles, was listed in stable condition at Northridge Hospital Medical Center after suffering a gunshot wound to the abdomen, said Lysa Barry of Barry and Associates, a media relations firm representing the hospital.

Two other firefighters suffered cuts from a blast that shattered a fire engine’s windshield, said Jim Wells, a spokesman for the city Fire Department.

Police Cmdr. Gary Brennan said the firefighters may have been struck by shotgun pellets, but declined to speculate whether it was fired by a gunman or from ammunition exploding in the heat of the blaze.

About five hours after the blaze turned the home into smoldering debris, a bomb squad found the body of an “older” man along with a shotgun and rifle inside a shed, Brennan said.

“He appears to be the victim of suicide,” he said. “We can do a firearms investigation of the shotgun. … A forensics investigation will determine whether it was recently fired.”

Meanwhile, arson investigators were also trying to determine whether the fire is connected to a second blaze reported at a home about a mile east of the scene, fire spokesman Bob Collis said.

That fire, reported less than hour before the other blaze, was extinguished in about 25 minutes, he said.