LOS ANGELES — A 46-year-old man died on Monday after attempting to rescue his dogs from inside a burning recreational vehicle in Rancho Park, authorities said.
The victim lived in the RV at 2734 S. Westwood Blvd. – in a residential neighborhood – with his wife and dogs, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The victim's partner, Rachel Spencer, identified him as David Michael Plott of Alabama. She said they were engaged, not married.
The couple was gathering cans in an alley when a fire broke out inside the RV, according to Spencer. Plott entered the RV in an attempt to save their three dogs.
“I thought he was gonna come out because he’s tough,” Spencer said. “I thought he was gonna come out running with the dogs."
Some men tried breaking the RV windows to save Plott "but it was too late," she said. "I heard him crying 'I love you' and my dogs crying."
One of the couple's neighbors witnessed the flames but said she was unaware there was a person inside.
"I didn't know that anybody was in the RV," said Susan Gearin. "Had I known, I would've gotten an axe ... we could've gone and busted open the side panel."
"I heard the dogs in there, which was the real heartbreaking thing," she said. "I could hear them screaming."
Gearin called 911 around 11 a.m. and she and a friend tried hosing down the flames, as seen in footage of the scene. Plott was not able to make it out alive.
"He's a great man," Spencer said. " I love him. He's my soulmate."
Spencer said the three dogs — whose names are Outlaw, Bonny and Caleb — also did not survive.
Another neighbor said she has gathered up some clothes and shoes and cash to give to Spencer after the devastating incident.
"This serves as a stark reminder to GET OUT AND STAY OUT of a fire," said a statement from the department. "Never re-enter a fire because you may very well not make it out."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but officials believe it was accidental.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Spencer by a neighbor to help "provide for basic shelter and food" after her partner's death and the loss of her home and dogs.