LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A homeless man was booked on suspicion of murder Tuesday after he allegedly set a fire that killed five people in a vacant office building in the Westlake District.
Firefighters had originally said one person died in the fire, but revised the death toll Tuesday afternoon after finding four additional bodies in the rubble. Two were men and two were women.
The LA Fire Department said all five victims appeared to be homeless, and that the fire appeared to be intentionally set.
The suspect, identified as 21-year-old Johnny Sanchez, allegedly set the fire intentionally because he had a dispute with other transients living in the building, police and fire officials said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Sanchez, who was taken into custody at about 8 p.m. Monday, was being held today in lieu of $100,000 bail, according to sheriff’s online inmate records.
The greater-alarm fire was reported just after 7 p.m. Monday at a 14,531-square-foot, two-story office building at 2411 W. Eighth St. near MacArthur Park, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.
A total of 147 firefighters fought the fire for two hours and 22 minutes, bringing it under control at about 9:25 p.m. Monday.
Three people were rescued from the building, two of whom were released and one of whom was transported to the hospital.
No firefighters were injured in Monday’s incident.
The building, which has long been vacant, has been the site of past fires, Humphrey said. Investigators are looking into what caused the blaze.
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