Several residents were displaced, and a man was arrested after a fire damaged five homes, including one that was still under construction, in Hermosa Beach Thursday morning.
The fire was reported shortly before 2 a.m. near Eighth Street and The Strand.
Arriving firefighters noticed a large amount of smoke and fire coming from a three-story building that was still under construction, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Brian Stevens said.
The fire had also spread to four other nearby homes as about 75 firefighters engaged the flames, Stevens said.
Officials initially indicated 200 to 300 firefighters were called to the scene but later updated the number.
Crews put out the blaze in about one hour, keeping the majority of damage to the building that was under construction.
Nearby resident Sam Sabra was alerted to the fire after hearing someone outside screaming.
When Sabra looked outside, he couldn’t believe the size of the flames. “I’ve never seen a fire like this,” he said.
Arriving law enforcement detained and later arrested a man who was located near the scene. He was identified as Michael Christopher Kotva, 27. He booked on suspicion of arson, Hermosa Beach city officials said in a news release.
The unfinished building where the fire was believed to have started was a total loss, Stevens said.
The four other homes sustained minimal to moderate damage.
Six residents were displaced as a result of the fire and one firefighter was hospitalized with minor injuries, officials said.
Stevens described the nature of the fire as “suspicious” but said the cause was still under investigation.