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Huntington Park : Former Security Guard Charged in Warehouse Fire

A former security guard is awaiting trial after being charged with accidentally igniting a $2.8-million blaze that destroyed McKay Chemical Co.'s shipping warehouse.

Gerardo Vargas, 36, of Baldwin Park and Moreno Valley, had worked for McKay Chemical as a night watchman for less than two weeks when the fire broke out at 2:25 a.m. on Oct. 21, officials said. Vargas was the only person on the property at 1920 Randolph St. when the fire started, officials said. He was arrested at the scene and booked for committing a reckless act, a felony under the state arson statute.

Vargas was released on $110,000 bail, Huntington Park Detective Tony Porter said. If convicted, Vargas could serve up to three years in state prison and be fined.

The fire began when a discarded cigarette ignited a stack of wooden pallets stored outside against the aluminum siding of the warehouse, said Capt. Bill Franklin, an arson investigator with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

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