HERMOSA BEACH (CBSLA) — A man arrested on suspicion of arson after a two-alarm fire broke out at a home under construction in The Strand in Hermosa Beach.
Neighbors say they started smelling smoke a little before 2 a.m. and discovered a fire had started in a three-story home that was under construction in the 800 block of the Strand.
Because homes are built very close together in this beachside community, the flames spread quickly to neighbors on each side and across the alley. Besides the home that was left a charred skeleton, four other homes were severely damaged.
“Yeah, it was pretty scary – I grabbed my son, grabbed the dog, and just kinda got out of the house,” resident Adam Wagenbrenner said. He and six others were displaced by the fire.
The fire was declared out before 3 a.m., but firefighters stayed on scene to mop up and make sure the flames stay out.
Michael Kotva, 27, was initially arrested on suspicion of arson, but was later determined to not be responsible for the fire and released without charges. Hermosa Beach police recognized a suspect seen on surveillance video and identified him as 50-year-old Keith Yessner.
Yessner was found in the 1600 block of Beach Drive and arrested on suspicion of arson, police said.
Fire officials say arson investigators are going to check for any surveillance cameras in the area, but the concern is that they were damaged by the fire.
A firefighter was taken to a hospital with a minor injury, but the nature of his injury and his condition were not known.
Hermosa Avenue and The Strand from 8th Street to 10th Street is closed until further notice because the charred structure does not appear stable and collapse at any moment. Engineers are trying to determine if the structure needs to be torn down completely.