Dramatic video shows arsonist setting fire at Lake Forest apartment complex

Surveillance video caught a man setting a fire at an apartment complex in Lake Forest. Authorities are requesting the public’s help in finding the arsonist.

A man was captured on surveillance video deliberately setting fire at an apartment complex in Lake Forest this week, officials said.

Video shows the man approaching the leasing office of the River Oaks Apartments in the 20700 block of El Toro Road. He is wearing a black hooded jacket that he uses to obscure his face and is carrying a large bottle with liquid in it.

The man walks toward the front of the building and calmly and deliberately pours the accelerant in front of the door, splashing the liquid along the exterior of the building and down a pathway. In the video, he then lights a match and runs away.

Arson investigators think the building was singled out, said the Orange County Fire Authority’s William Lackey.

“We do believe it was a specific target. We don’t know the reason for that right now.”


The agency received a call about the fire just after 1 a.m. Tuesday, about an hour before officials think the blaze was lit, Lackey said.

The fire charred the roof and front half of the leasing office, which sits about 50 feet from occupied apartments. Authorities estimate the fire caused about $100,000 in damage.

The fire authority is hoping the video will help identify the arsonist, who they fear may strike again. He is described as being 5-foot-9 and weighing about 180 pounds. Evidence collected from the scene was sent to the Orange County crime lab for analysis.

Anyone with information about the fire can call Lackey at (714) 573-6709.