Suspect in massive Los Angeles arson fire seen in video: L.A. Times

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 31, 2015 3:22 AM

(Reuters) - A suspect who sparked a massive arson fire last year that gutted a multi-story apartment complex under construction in Los Angeles was captured on surveillance tape reviewed by authorities, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.

The video showed the suspect parking a car on the 110 Freeway before walking into the building with "cans of fuel," the paper said, based on a recording of a community meeting last week addressed by Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Ruda.

The suspect "torched that building up from the freeway side and then escaped," Ruda told the roughly two dozen people at Echo Park's neighborhood council meeting, the Times reported.

Reuters could not independently verify the report.

Fire department representatives could not be immediately reached for comment. But department spokesman Peter Sanders told the Times in an email, "To protect the integrity of the investigation, I can neither confirm nor deny what Chief Ruda said last week."

Inspectors have interviewed more than 100 people about the blaze, which caused damages of up to $30 million when it engulfed the scaffolding of a seven-story luxury apartment complex.

The conflagration erupted in the early morning hours of Dec. 8 and quickly destroyed the construction site. Firefighters located next door opened the doors of the fire station to find the entire block engulfed in flames.

The intense heat ignited three floors of an adjacent office high-rise, blowing out its windows and those of two more. No one was injured.

Investigators said in January they had discovered accelerant in the building's ruins, evidence that the fire was arson.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)