Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Deputies Seek Woman in Palmdale Fire : Crime: A former tenant may be a suspect in the blaze, which caused $260,000 damage to the apartment building.


Sheriff’s deputies were searching Friday for a woman suspected of setting a fire that destroyed a four-unit, two-story apartment building in central Palmdale.

The blaze, reported at 12:30 a.m., caused about $260,000 damage at 38458 10th St. East. In recent years, city code enforcement officers have found health and safety violations at the building, and it went into foreclosure late last month, authorities said.

No one was injured in the blaze, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Collin. American Red Cross workers were arranging shelter for three displaced tenants. Collin said the building was believed to be a total loss.

Deputies declined to identify the suspected arsonist, but said she had been a tenant in the building. “One of the witnesses indicated to us that they saw her throw a lighted candle on a mattress,” Collin said.


No motive for the arson is known, said Sgt. Larry Crookshanks of the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Bureau.

Terry Ashley, a tenant in an adjacent apartment building, complained Friday that a previous landlord allowed trash to pile up and did not maintain the utility services. She said it was fortunate that none of the tenants or their children were hurt in the blaze.

“The fire people got here just in time,” she said.

The building is located in a Palmdale area targeted by Partners Against Crime, PAC, a combined effort by deputies, city officials and community leaders to combat crime and neighborhood blight.


PAC Deputy Lee D’Errico said that some health and safety problems had occurred in the building, and that illegal drug transactions had taken place in front of it.

Mike Morrisey, the city’s senior code enforcement officer, said his staff had moved to correct relatively minor violations at the site in past years, including a buildup of trash, inoperative or wrecked vehicles on the grounds and pirated electricity.

Morrisey said the current owner, Home Savings, had been notified about the fire and was expected to quickly authorize the placement of a protective fence around the damaged structure.