A 22-year-old man was sentenced Tuesday to four years in state prison for setting fire to an apartment building that was under construction in East Hollywood, displacing residents in a neighboring building, officials said.
Benicio Garcia pleaded no contest to two counts of arson of a structure in the June 12, 2017, incident on the 400 block of North Heliotrope Drive, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Neighbors said they woke up around 6 a.m. to the smell of smoke. An adjacent complex had to be evacuated, and 20 people were ultimately displaced.
A neighboring home also suffered minor damage, and a firefighter was hurt when she was struck by falling debris, officials said.
The blaze completely charred the top two floors of the structure under construction, and aerial footage showed that the smoke could be seen for miles.
Prosecutors said Garcia was homeless at the time of the blaze.
No one else was inside the building when the fire broke out, according to the DA’s office.
Witnesses spotted Garcia outside the burning complex, and he was taken into custody.
At the time of his arrest, Garcia told KTLA in Spanish that he did not intentionally set any fires and ran out of the building when flames suddenly erupted.