PASADENA (CNS) – A man was arrested today on suspicion of sparking a $1.35-million fire that killed two men and badly injured another at an unlicensed boarding-type house in Pasadena where the four men lived.
Garth Allen Robbins, 49, was arrested about 5:45 a.m. at a local restaurant, and was booked on suspicion of murder, said Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra. He was held without bail.
Thursday’s 2:45 a.m. fire at 1385 El Sereno Ave. killed a man in his 70s and a man in his 50s, Ibarra said. Their names were withheld, pending notification of their relatives.
Perry Simons, 65, was hospitalized in serious condition for treatment of “fire-related injuries,” Ibarra said.
“As the investigation progressed, evidence was recovered indicative of an intentionally set fire in Mr. Robbins’ room,” Ibarra said. “The focus of the investigation shifted from a suspicious fire to an act of arson/murder.”
The initial call reported an explosion, and arriving firefighters found flames and heavy smoke in the house, which had two stories and an attic, Pasadena fire spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Investigators determined the residence was not licensed to be operated as a boarding-type facility, she said. Damage was estimated at $750,000 to the structure and $600,000 to the contents.
The house had been occupied by 19 people, Derderian said. Those who were displaced by the fire were housed for a time at a shelter, and were being moved to motels until permanent housing could be found for them, she said.
The fire threatened — but did not damage — two adjacent homes, which were evacuated as about 40 firefighters doused the blaze in about 20 minutes, Derderian said.
Anyone with information on the case was urged to call Detective Pham, (626) 744-4522; or Crime Stoppers, (800) 222-TIPS.
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