SAN PEDRO, Calif. (KTLA) — The fire that that injured a dozen people at a motel in San Pedro is now a homicide investigation.
The San Pedro Motel, on the 1000 block of Palos Verdes Street, went up in flames around 3:30 a.m.
“I was hearing a lot of yelling and screaming and stuff. I just panicked,” a resident said.
“The smoke was so thick I couldn’t see anything. There were two people in front of me and I couldn’t see them,” another resident added.
A fire company that was coming back from an emergency medical response spotted the smoke.
“What they encountered was a two-story apartment building with heavy fire on the first floor in the rear,” said LAFD Capt. Jaime Moore.
“It was fully occupied. This is 14 units with people living inside, and people threatening to jump because of the smoke and heat being generated by this fire.”
Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames in about 15 to 20 minutes.
Investigators later ruled the cause of the fire as arson.
A former resident, Justin Boyd, said that he was not surprised the fire happened.
“It’s a bad building health wise. It’s so bad, every Friday the health inspector comes to inspect all the rooms to make sure it’s up to code,” Boyd said.
The residential motel was built in 1923.
KTLA spoke with Kris Mandalia, who had owed the motel for 10 years.
“We had a housing inspection last December. We passed,” Mandalia said.
The LAFD treated 14 people for injuries.
Twelve of the injured were transported to the hospital, including three in critical condition.
One of those critical patients, a 69-year-old man, died overnight.
He has not been identified.