Arson investigators on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 gather near rubble after an Elks Lodge in San Pedro was destroyed in a fire.
A man was arrested in connection with an arson fire that destroyed the bulk of an Elks Lodge in San Pedro, city and fire officials said Tuesday.
Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino joined Los Angeles Fire Deputy Chief Donald Frazeur at a news conference Tuesday to announce the arrest.
Nick Pecarich, a 78-year-old San Pedro resident, was arrested Tuesday afternoon in connection with the fire and was being held in lieu of $500,000 bail, Frazeur said.
The lodge, located on a hillside, was engulfed in flames April 15. The bulk of the 35,000-square-foot, two-story building was destroyed, with the exception of an area used for gatherings and rituals, fire officials said.
Sources confirmed to NBC4 Pecarich was allegedly seen at a gas station purchasing a lighter and five gallons of gasoline about 30 minutes before the fire broke out.
"Here in San Pedro, our hearts have been charred, but our spirit remains strong," Buscaino said. "We will rebuild this lodge bigger and better."
Firefighters were able to save a 109-year-old Bible that has been part of ceremonies at the lodge, as well as several other items that officials said were irreplaceable.
Fifty employees were displaced by the blaze, officials said.
Authorities would not answer requests from NBC4 about whether Pecarich had obtained a lawyer. Police could not confirm reports Pecarich was a former Elks Lodge member.