Nick Pecarich, 78, of San Pedro, was arrested without incident Tuesday afternoon and was booked at the LAPD Metropolitan Detention Center for arson.
More than100 firefighters responded to the blaze, which began around 3 a.m. on April 15 at the lodge in the 1700 block of West Cumbre Drive. Both floors were engulfed in flames and the roof of the 33,744 square-foot building collapsed, officials said.
Firefighters contained the blaze about two hours later and were able to save most of the auditorium and some valuable artifacts, including a bible, antlers and jewels, before the fire reached them.
A source close to the investigation tells Eyewitness News that Pecarich went to a local gas station about 2 miles away from Elks Lodge and filled gas cans the night of the fire around 2:30 a.m. The source says the suspect's car is seen in the surveillance video of Elks Lodge.
According to the source, Pecarich is apparently well known in the community but has been acting up lately. He was arrested for an unrelated incident a couple of weeks ago. The source says after going on a rant, Pecarich was admitted to a hospital under an involuntary psychiatric hold. Officers waited at the hospital Tuesday for his release and arrested him.
Pecarich is being held on $500,000 bail. His arraignment is set for Thursday.