Victim of San Pedro Hotel Fire Dies; Blaze Ruled Arson

"This is now an arson and homicide investigation."

By Olsen Ebright
|  Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013  |  Updated 4:46 PM PDT
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Raw Video: Fire at Residential Motel

Emergency workers provide oxygen for tenants of the San Pedro Inn following a fire on Jan. 22, 2013.

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Arson Investigators Search for Answers in San Pedro Motel Fire

More than a 12 people were hurt in an early morning fire in a San Pedro motel that's now believed to have been deliberately set. Arson investigators say the fire started on the ground floor and quickly spread upward, trapping residents. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from San Pedro for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Jan. 22, 2013.

Raw Video: Fire at Residential Motel

One person jumped from the second level of a residential motel and 12 people were hospitalized after a fire in San Pedro. Raw video broadcast Tuesday Jan. 22, 2013.
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A residential hotel fire that was first described as "criminal in nature" has been ruled arson and now homicide investigators are working the case following the death of a 69-year-old man.

"We are confirming that the San Pedro fire is now a homicide," said LAPD Detective Gus Villanueva. "A 69-year-old male, victim of the fire, has died. We are not releasing his identity because we are still in process of notifying next of kin."

"This is now an arson and homicide investigation," Villanueva said.

Fourteen people were injured in the blaze at the San Pedro Inn at 1001 S. Palos Verdes St. at 3:31 a.m. Tuesday. At least three of the victims -- including the man who later died -- were hospitalized in critical condition.

"I was dead asleep. Then I heard the beeping of alarms. Then I started smelling fire," said resident Maria DeAlba, who lived on the first floor. "Two people jumped from the top floor. You could see glass coming down, and when they hit down there, all the blood on the floor."

About 150 firefighters were able to knockdown the blaze in 34 minutes, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

"It is fortunate firefighters arrived so quickly to this tragic incident, even before a 911 call was received, and we were able to rescue occupants hanging from second story windows," LAFD's Erik Scott told City News Service. "It could have been worse. Every second that passes in a large fire, the intensity increases extremely fast."

At least seven of the 14 units in the building were damaged, Scott said Tuesday.

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