Homeless man charged with murder for Westlake fire that killed 5

A 21-year-old homeless man was arrested on suspicion of starting a fire that killed five people at a vacant two-story building in the Westlake district Monday night. (KABC)

A 21-year-old homeless man was charged with capital murder on Wednesday for allegedly setting a fire in a Westlake district building that killed five people, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

Prosecutors are asking that Johnny Josue Sanchez be held without bail. They say he set the fire Monday night in a vacant commercial building at 2411 W. Eighth St. after getting into a dispute with other transients at the site.

It took 147 firefighters more than two hours to attack the flames at the vacant 14,351 square-foot building, which did not have working sprinklers, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Firefighters rescued several people from the building, including Sanchez, and transported them to a local hospital.

One person was found dead immediately at the scene and four more were found the next day by detection dogs. All five victims were believed to be transients.

Two of the victims were identified as Jerry Dean Clemons, 59, and Mary Ann Davis, 44. One female and two male victims have not been identified.
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