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Man arrested on suspicion of arson in fire at East Hollywood apartment buildings

LAFD Captain Erik Scott describes the scene of the East Hollywood fire and arrest of arson suspect. (Video by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A 20-year-old man was arrested Monday on suspicion of arson after a fire heavily damaged two East Hollywood buildings that were under construction, authorities said.

Benicio Garcia of Los Angeles was booked on a count of arson and was being held on $75,000 bond, according to Amy Bastman, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

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Garcia was detained earlier in the day for questioning, and LAFD spokesman Erik Scott had described the fire as "suspicious."

The fire was reported at 6:04 a.m. at two adjacent three-story apartment buildings in the 400 block of North Heliotrope Drive, Bastman said.

The buildings, which were "just past the framing stage" of construction, were unoccupied; but the fire damaged a one-story home and a nearby apartment building, displacing 10 adults and 10 children, Bastman said.

Television news video showed flames shooting from the apartment buildings' roofs and a column of black smoke in the air.

The top two stories of one building were completely charred.

The fire was knocked down by 107 firefighters in 42 minutes, Bastman said.

L.A. City Fire captain Tim Gill pulls hoses at the scene in the 400 block of Helitrope Drive in East Hollywood.
L.A. City Fire captain Tim Gill pulls hoses at the scene in the 400 block of Helitrope Drive in East Hollywood. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

One firefighter was taken to a hospital after she sustained minor injuries but was in "good condition," Bastman said. There were no other reported injuries.

Scott, the LAFD spokesman, told KTLA-TV Channel 5 that the fire burned so hot that it blew out windows in an adjacent apartment building. Firefighters were evaluating damage to nearby buildings, he said.

Arson investigators were on hand Monday morning. It's unclear how the blaze began or what evidence led to Garcia's arrest.

The fire remains under investigation, Bastman said.

Police detain a suspect near the 400 block of Heliotrope Drive in East Hollywood on Monday morning.
Police detain a suspect near the 400 block of Heliotrope Drive in East Hollywood on Monday morning. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Twitter: @haileybranson

Twitter: @MattHjourno

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UPDATES:

5:05 p.m.: This article was updated with confirmation that a man was arrested on suspicion of arson.

8:50 a.m. This article was updated with details about a man being detained.

This article was originally published at 8:10 a.m.

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