A man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of arson in connection to a fire that damaged five homes and displaced several residents in Hermosa Beach, authorities said.
Firefighters and police officers responded to the fire at a three-story home that was under construction near Eighth Street and The Strand at about 2 a.m., the Hermosa Beach Police Department said.
The flames spread to four other nearby homes as a thick cloud of smoke billowed over the beach-front properties while 75 firefighters battled the blaze, and officers evacuated the area.
Witnesses described seeing a man walk out of the structure just as the fire ignited, and police later found and detained a man that matched the description, Hermosa Beach Police said.
The man was later released from custody without charges after arson investigators determined he was not responsible for the fire, according to police.
Another man, Keith Yessner, was then arrested on suspicion of arson in the nearby 1600 block of Beach Drive after officers recognized him in surveillance video from the scene, police said.
Authorities said Yessner has had previous contact with police.
The unfinished building where the fire started was a total loss, and the four other homes sustained minimal to moderate damage, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Brian Stevens said.
Anyone with information was asked to call arson investigators at 323-855-0070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org