Authorities are investigating what they are calling a “suspicious” fire that tore through a Seal Beach duplex early Saturday, killing a man and his dog.
Dozens of firefighters were dispatched to a duplex in the 200 block of 17th Street about 12:15 a.m. Saturday, where they found flames raging from the second floor of the structure, said Carlos Huerta, a spokesman for Orange County Fire Authority.
Firefighters struggled to extinguish the blaze “because of the amount of debris in the residence,” Huerta said. When they conducted a search of the building, they found the victim and his dog on the second floor, he said.
Firefighters knocked out the second-story blaze about 1:20 a.m., slightly more than an hour after the first responders arrived. They did not find any other victims, Huerta said.
The Fire Authority deemed the fire “suspicious” and is working with Seal Beach police to investigate further, Huerta said. The blaze caused $500,000 in structural damage and $20,000 in damage to contents, he said.
Authorities have not identified the victim, but by 9 a.m., friends and neighbors were stopping by to pay respects.
Jane Parnes, a volunteer with Seal Beach Animal Care Center, a local nonprofit shelter, called the victim a “sweet soul” who loved animals, especially his Jack Russell terrier, Eddie.
Parnes came to the scene “hoping to find out that he and Eddie died together,” she said.
“He loved that dog more than anything,” Parnes said of the victim. “He used to carry him like a little baby.”
Floreen Bursinger agreed that her neighbor was a “nice man” but described him as “a hoarder.” She and other neighbors had reported his behavior to the city several times, concerned that if the victim’s unit caught fire, the blaze would spread quickly, Bursinger said.
“The city kept saying ‘he’s going to be out in five days,’ … and then what do you know, he never was out,” Bursinger said.