Hermosa Beach

Suspect Charged in Hermosa Beach Arson Fire

A Riverside County resident suspected of setting a fire that engulfed a three-story oceanfront home under construction in Hermosa Beach and damaged four other nearby residences was charged Monday with five counts of arson.

Keith Yessner, 50, is expected to be arraigned Tuesday, possibly in Torrance, but details were not immediately available from the District Attorney's Office.

Yessner was arrested last Thursday night after Hermosa Beach police officers said they recognized him from surveillance video in connection with the two-alarm blaze.

The blaze, which resulted in the evacuation of a half-dozen residents, was reported shortly before 2 a.m. last Thursday in the 800 block of Beach Drive and was extinguished in about an hour by county firefighters assisted by personnel from the Manhattan Beach, El Segundo and Redondo Beach fire departments.

One firefighter was treated at a hospital for a minor injury, authorities said.

"Witnesses reported seeing a male subject inside the structure walk out just as the fire ignited," Hermosa Beach police Sgt. Mick Gaglia said in a statement released Friday morning. "A description was given and officers -- after evacuating homes in danger -- began a search for the suspect."

Another suspect in the case was cleared of involvement and released just hours before Yessner's arrest. Officers had thought he matched the description of the arsonist, but further investigation revealed that he was not responsible, Gaglia said. Yessner, who lives in La Quinta, was recognized once video became available because of "previous contacts with HBPD," according to the sergeant.

Yessner was arrested in the 1600 block of Beach Drive and is being held in lieu of $75,000 bail, according to the sheriff's jail records.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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