In an unprecedented move, the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have announced in a news conference the offer of $170,000 for any information leading to an arrest in the case of the Da Vinci apartment complex fire of December 8, 2014.
As reported by Reuters, the inferno began at around 1:30 a.m., quickly engulfing the seven-story apartment building that was under construction at 900 West Temple Street in Los Angeles. By the time it was brought under control by the vast numbers of firefighters brought in tackle the blaze, it had completely destroyed the site, set fire to two neighboring buildings, blown out windows in the vicinity, and damaged a nearby section of freeway. It is estimated that up to $30 million in damage was caused.
In a written statement released in December 2014, and reported by CBS Local, the Los Angeles Fire Department announced its findings.
“Investigators recovered sufficient evidence to eliminate all known potential accidental causes and determine the fire was intentionally set.”
That evidence was gathered through the manual sifting of debris, the examination of surveillance footage, and the deployment of an accelerant detection dog — which found that an accelerant was present at the site. To date, the investigation has seen over 100 individuals questioned, but no arrests have been made as yet. The size of the reward fund surprised many, given that there were no injuries or deaths resulting from the fire. ATF Special Agent Carlos Canino explained that the reward highlights the gravity of the crime committed.
“This is not vandalism, this is an act of violence. It’s not violence against a building, but against a whole community.”
ABC 7 reports that the reward fund is comprised of $75,000 proposed by Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, a further $75,000 in matched funds from the property developer, and an additional $20,000 contributed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Los Angeles City Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas made it clear that the authorities would achieve their goal and find the perpetrator or perpetrators.
“The reckless work of the individual or individuals responsible for the Da Vinci fire exposed more than 250 firefighters to great personal injury while fighting an extremely hot and massive fire that stretched an entire city block and caused significant damage to two adjacent high-rise buildings. Arson is a crime that the Los Angeles Fire Department and our law enforcement partners take very seriously. If you commit an act of arson in the city of Los Angeles, we will find you. We will arrest you.”
Los Angeles authorities are seeking to speak to two specific witnesses, seen in surveillance footage on the night of the incident, to help them with their investigation.
[Image via USA Today]