Building inspectors were dispatched to investigate whether a “barn-like” structure in Sylmar that went up in flames this morning, claiming a family of four, was a legal residence, L.A. fire officials said.

A mother and father and their preteen son and daughter all perished, the L.A. Fire Department's Katherine Maine told us.

The mother initially survived but was pronounced at a hospital this afternoon, while the rest of the family died hours earlier, she said:
The fire at 13781 Eldridge Ave. was reported at 4:37 a.m., according to the department. Officials said winds up to 30 miles an hour made fighting the blaze in a two-story “metal clad barn-like residence” a challenge.

Thirty-five firefighters had the blaze knocked down in 25 minutes, officials said. The father and two children died in the morning, after they were rushed by paramedics to hospitals.

Main told us the place did not have working smoke alarms, and in a statement the department described the structure as a “haphazardly constructed duplex.”

The cause was still under investigation.

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