Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide detectives are investigating the deaths of a woman and small child in an SUV fire.

Authorities say witnesses saw the woman getting in and out of the burning vehicle Thursday night in the unincorporated Athens area.

A Sheriff's Department statement says the witnesses reported the woman then placed the child in the SUV and also climbed in, ignoring calls from people in nearby Athens Park to get out.

Firefighters and sheriff's deputies responded but the woman and child were dead when the fire was extinguished.

The child is estimated to have been 3 or 4 years old.