Talbert Gorum, 48
Talbert Gorum, a 48-year-old black man, was found dead Sunday, March 4, in the 1000 block of East Vernon Avenue in Historic South-Central, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post, based on information from the coroner's office, identified the victim as an unknown person.]
Firefighters arrived shortly before 6 a.m. on March 2 to find flames pouring from a one-story apartment building, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
It took more than 60 firefighters about half an hour to knock down the blaze, officials said. A black woman, identified by the coroner's office as Jane Doe, was found in the apartment. She was injured and taken to USC University Hospital in critical condition. She died later that day.
Ed Winter, spokesman for the coroner’s office, said coroner's officials are withholding Doe's name until they notify next of kin of her death.
At the time of the fire, officials received reports that a second person had been with Doe before the blaze but fled before firefighters arrived.
However, firefighters continued sifting through the debris and on Sunday found human remains.
“We could not immediately ascertain the age or gender,” Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.
The coroner's office has since identified the second person as Talbert Gorum. Winter said preliminary coroner's records show Gorum suffered smoke inhalation and thermal burns. His cause of death is undetermined as officials continue to investigate the circumstances of the fire.
The building was originally built as a home and was converted at some point into a small medical office, then boarded up and abandoned. It had been vandalized before the fire, officials said.
The Fire Department, assisted by a dog trained to detect fire accelerants, has learned that the blaze was deliberately set, Humphrey said.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the Los Angeles Fire Department Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section at (213) 893-9800. Tipsters wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.
-- Rick Rojas and Scott Gold