Investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Arson and Explosives Detail reported Friday that preliminary evidence for a structure fire at a Newhall strip mall last weekend suggests the blaze was ignited by a nearby homeless encampment fire.
The fire, which was first reported at approximately 4:40 p.m. Saturday on the 23000 block of Lyons Avenue, caused significant damage to the second story of the commercial structure but did not result in any reported injuries.
“The fire started on the outside of the building and spread to the structure,” said Sgt. Dan Tobin, of the Arson/Explosives Detail, referencing the results of his team’s initial investigation. “It’s suspected that it may have been a warming fire that got out of control by potential transients in the area.”
The warming fire, which is normally used either to keep warm or cook food, is believed to have been housed in an alcove near the commercial building that stores the businesses’ dumpsters or trash bins, according to Tobin.
“We don’t have any information on who is responsible for starting the fire at this point, but the investigation is still ongoing,” said Tobin.
Multiple engines from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and a number of patrol vehicles from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station were called to the scene on Sunday.
While firefighters attacked the fire from the ground, as well as going through the roof of the building with hand tools, deputies redirected traffic away from Lyons Avenue and toward Wayman Street.
Knockdown on the fire was called at approximately 5:30 p.m. However, first responders remained at the scene in order to investigate and clean up any remaining flare-ups.
Tobin said investigators are seeking the public’s assistance and are asking anyone with information to contact the Sheriff’s Department Arson and Explosives Detail at 323-881-7500.
Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling “LA Crime Stoppers” at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting http://LACrimeStoppers.org.