[symple_googlemap title=”” location=”700 block of 11th Street, Manhattan Beach, CA” height=”300″ zoom=”13″]

Arson investigators on Thursday were combing a fire scene at the Manhattan Beach home of a family whose residents believe they were targeted because they are black.

The blaze at the front entrance of the home 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 being alerted by their dog and smoke detectors, officials said.

“The fire was extinguished and found to be confined to the front entrance, with significant smoke damage to the second and third floor. The cause of the fire is suspicious in nature,” according to a fire department statement.

A possible motive has not been determined, officials said, but Ron Clinton, who has lived at the house with his wife and three children for about a year, said he fears his family may have been attacked because they are black.

“Someone set a tire there and they used some accelerant to ignite it,” Clinton told CBS2. “All I know is that when I woke up, I woke up to a loud blast.”

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, told the station that she believes they were targeted in a hate crime.

“We don’t know who could have done it, but being that we are the only African American family in that area, it was brought to my front door and it feels like it’s personal,” Clinton said.

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 told CBS2.

“The motive has not been determined and to speculate before the completion of the investigation can be detrimental to the family, the community and the investigation,” fire officials said.

“Our fire service professionals are aggressively investigating this very serious matter and will explore all motives.”

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.

City News Service

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