2 men caught on video at huge L.A. fire are sought by police

Men seen on video near DaVinci building are sought by ATF and LAFD

Authorities investigating a massive blaze that consumed a downtown Los Angeles apartment building under construction last week are seeking a man captured on surveillance video near the scene around the time the fire started.

A second man, caught on a freelance news video, is also being sought. He was pushed away from the site by firefighters after the blaze started, an ATF spokesman said.

A task force led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives national response team is seeking to identify the men seen on the videos, but neither is considered a suspect or person of interest, said Thomas Mangan, a spokesman for the agency.

"It is purely someone we are seeking to interview as an investigative lead," Mangan said.

The blaze destroyed one of the Da Vinci apartments' two buildings at the intersection of the 101 and 110 freeways.

A video released by fire officials shows one of the men walking beside a fence outside of the engulfed property. The video then shows the man hanging off the fence and two firefighters pulling him away and restraining him. He is wearing a baseball cap, T-shirt, dark leather jacket and dark jeans. 

The second man was seen on footage captured by a video security camera from a building opposite the Da Vinci. That man is seen wearing a San Diego Chargers football jersey, dark pants and sneakers. He walks with a backpack calmly down the street.

Images of at least the second man had been circulated to law enforcement in an effort to identify him. After questions from The Times, authorities made the images public in an effort to identify the two people.

The ATF's national response team, which consists of more than 20 fire investigators and other specialists, spent the weekend digging through the building's debris, interviewing witnesses and looking through surveillance video footage of the fire. Investigators are also continuing to check nearby buildings for more security cameras that might have captured the beginning of the blaze.

Officials cautioned that because of the enormous size of the burn site, it may be weeks or months before they are able to reach a final conclusion about how the fire started or whether it was intentional.

Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas has said the sheer "amount of fire" that consumed the seven-story structure made it suspicious. Firefighters at a station just yards from the building reported that the structure was “heavily involved in fire."

“That’s unusual, to have that much fire all at the same time," Terrazas said.

The Los Angeles Fire Department’s arson task force and the Los Angeles Police Department’s criminal conspiracy investigators are also part of the investigation.

For more Southern California crime news, follow @lacrimes and @vicjkim.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

2:38 p.m.: This post has been updated to include a description of the two men sought for interviews and details about the videos.

This post was originally published at 2:07 p.m.

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