Investigation Continuing into Westlake Building Fire; Man In Custody

Firefighter spray water fighting

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man who may have sparked a fire that gutted a two-story commercial/residential building in the Westlake area was facing possible criminal charges Friday, authorities said.

The fire was reported about 5:15 p.m. Thursday in the 2800 block of Seventh Street, and firefighters extinguished the flames in 53 minutes, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The 45-year-old man was taken to a hospital from the scene with non- life-threatening injuries, and he was being investigated for possible involvement in starting the blaze, the LAFD reported.

The man's name had not been released as of Friday morning, and the investigation was continuing into what charges the man might face, according to the Los Angeles Police Department reported.

According to the LAPD, officers were sent to the location on a battery investigation involving  woman and a man with whom she was living. Officers spoke to the woman outside the building, and  evacuated the structure. They worked to contact the man, who remained inside the second-story apartment.

Police did not have information on the relationship between the man and woman, but KTLA5 reported they were brother and sister.

LAPD Capt. Aaron Ponce told the station the man inside the apartment barricaded the door with a couch. When officers tried to make contact with him, they "encountered the man in the doorway holding knives."

Police said officers then backed off and attempted to talk the man out of the apartment.

"He came out onto the balcony in between the two apartments, began throwing things at the officers," Ponce said. "It's my understanding he also lit some clothing, lit some type of objects and threw those at the officers," Ponce said.

That's when the fire began to engulf the suspect's apartment, and the suspect came out and was taken into custody. The extent of his injuries was not immediately known.

LAFD officials said an agency fire engine was on the scene with the LAPD in response to the call, and when smoke began emanating from a window, the incident was upgraded to a structure fire.

The building had commercial units on the ground floor and about eight apartment units above in a center-hallway configuration.

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