A man who appears to have been stealing fuel from a South L.A. gas station was found fatally burned inside a van that went up in flames this morning, authorities said.

The L.A. Fire Department was called to the back of the station at 45th Street and Avalon Boulevard at 6:19 p.m., LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey told us.

What firefighters found caused them to call the cops:

“A vehicle to the rear of the location was well involved,” Humphrey said. “A discovery upon distinguishing the fire caused us to turn over the investigation to police.”

Cops were called to a report of a fatally burned person inside a van at that location about 6:30 a.m., said LAPD Officer Richard French.

Investigators believe the guy might have been siphoning gas. French:

That's what it looks like. We think he might have been trying to take fuel from an underground tank. Homicide detectives have been sent to investigate the circumstances.

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We reached out to coroner's officials for the man's name, but an investigator was still in the field, we were told, and identification is still pending.

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