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.