“I'm Afraid for My Family”: Dad Fears House Fire Was Hate Crime

The fire was mostly contained to the front door of a Manhattan Beach home early Wednesday

Ronald Clinton believes a fire that burned the front door of his Manhattan Beach home Tuesday night was a hate crime.

He believes someone threw a burning tire through his front door and wanted to hurt his family. The blaze was reported about 2:15 a.m. Wednesday in the 700 block of 11th Street, according to the Manhattan Beach Fire Department.

Family members were home at the time, and got out safely after hearing a loud boom.

But the fire shattered their sense of safety.

"The fact that we are the only African-American family in this area, the fact that our house specifically, it came to our front door," Clinton said. "I'm very angry and I'm a little afraid for my family."

The fire was extinguished and was confined to the front entrance, with significant smoke damage to the second and third floor. The cause was suspicious, fire investigators said.

Investigators have found no witnesses nor security video, said Manhattan Beach Fire Chief Robert Espinosa.

Neighbors said they woke up to all the commotion.

"It was really scary," said Erwin Abad.

Neighbor Betty Vaccaro throught it was terrible.

"Those people must have been scared out of their wits," she said.

Clinton said he didn't know of any disagreement or "beef" with anyone that might have led to the fire being set, but his wife, a lawyer, who was out of town when the fire was set, said that she believes they were targeted in a hate crime.

Drug paraphernalia was placed at the home's front door a few months ago and at other times trash and other large items have been dumped at the house, Clinton said.

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation was urged to contact Fire Investigator Mike Murrey at (310) 345-0467. Anonymous tips can be provided by calling Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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