A fire heavily damaged a five-story affordable housing complex under construction in East Los Angeles Wednesday, along with a historic theater building and a house, and a “person of interest” was detained in connection with the investigation.
About 150 firefighters responded to the area of Rowan Avenue and First Street at about 1 a.m. and encountered heavy fire coming from the 62-unit complex, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The building, which was called “Nuevo Amanecer” and had been under construction for 18 months, was going to house low-income veterans and families, according to Manuel Bernal, president of East LA Community Corporation, a nonprofit group that planned and managed it. It was scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.
The fire, which forced the evacuation of nearby residents, also damaged a historic pre-1933 theater building and a single-story house, but no injuries were reported.
“Not only does this tragedy profoundly affect our timeline to provide quality housing to veterans and families, but the families living next door were also impacted by the fire and local workers have lost their construction jobs,” Bernal said in a statement. “No one was injured, but Nuevo Amanecer was a valuable economic resource in East LA and we are overcome with grief for the loss of our neighbors’ homes and livelihoods. We are currently looking into ways to support the families as we recover together.”
A teenage boy was detained for questioning as a “person of interest” in connection with the fire investigation, according to the county fire department.
“We are cooperating with the local authorities and the Red Cross, and have sadly been informed by the sheriff’s department that an arson suspect is in custody,” Bernal said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s East Los Angeles Station could not confirm if the person of interest or any other suspects had been arrested.
The blaze was largely extinguished by daybreak, but firefighters were still sifting through rubble hours later to determine if there were any smoldering embers. An official knockdown time was listed as 9:31 a.m. A drone was deployed to help firefighters inspect the site.
East LA Community Corporation says it will work to rebuild Nuevo Amanecer.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: