Kevin Cody

Fire destroys new Hermosa Beach Strand home

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Video by Sam Sabra

Chris Wagenbrehener was awakened early Thursday morning by what sounded like objects falling to the ground outside her two story home at the corner of Eighth Street and Beach Drive, in Hermosa Beach

When she looked out an upstairs window, she saw a small fire at the newly framed house across Beach Drive. The new house is in the middle of the 800 Block of the Strand and backs up to Beach Drive.

Wagenbrehener also saw a man walking slowly on 8th Street, one house away from the fire.

“He seemed awfully nonchalant,” she recalled thinking.

Wagenbrehener called 911.

A Hermosa Beach Strand home home under construction was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. Photo by Pete Hoffman

“Then, while I was on the phone, the fire went ‘Whoosh,” she said. Flames climbed to the top of the new home and leapt across the alley and through the windows of her ground floor kitchen and upstairs master bedroom.

“I yelled for everyone to get out. My husband, my son, his grandson and our dog were in the house,” she said.

Photo by Pete Hoffman.

Video of the fire by neighbor Sam Sabra shows the Wagenbreheners running out their front gate with their dog and their dog then turning around to run back into the house. The dog was safely retrieved.

Flames that leapt across the alley also engulfed the home immediately north of the Wagenbrehener’s and damaged the homes on either side of the home where the fire began.

Los Angeles County Firefighters from the Hermosa Beach fire station  arrived at the scene of the fire at 1:59 a.m. Firefighters from Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and El Segundo also responded. The fire was extinguished at 3 a.m., according to a City of Hermosa Beach statement.

Though the cause of the fire has not been determined, police arrested Michael Christopher Kotva, 27, who was lingering in the area while the fire raged. One firefighter suffered minor injuries. ER

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