Man arrested on suspicion of arson after Santa Monica apartment explosion

- A U.S. Air Force veteran is behind bars on suspicion of arson after Santa Monica police say he lit his gas line on fire inside his apartment unit overnight, causing an explosion.

Neighbors say the heard the "boom" around 1 a.m. Sunday.

Nguyen Trinh video taped the fire with his cell phone.

"I was watching TV trying to go to sleep and we just heard a big blast and it shook the apartment," Trinh said.
Adele Burgarella says she was so scared her heart "was jumping out of [her] throat."

"I thought it was a big explosion or a UFO landing or something. I got my jacket and my medication for the month and I ran out," Burgarella said. She banged on her neighbors door to wake him up.

Trinh and Burgarellla along with around a dozen others ran from their home, worried the fire would spread.

The suspect suffered burns to his hands and feet before being taken into police custody.

Sonny Santos lives below the suspect. He says the suspect served in the U.S. Air Force and may have PTSD.

"I’ve known him since I moved in 8 months ago. He’s an veteran also, air force veteran," Santos said.

Santos says he and others would call him "American Dan" because of the way he would dress and bike around the neighborhood. A neighbor who asked not to be identified shared a picture of him wearing only an American flag themed speedo and helmet while on a bike. 

"We called him American Dan because he was riding his thongs around Santa Monica. He was a nice guy, I don’t know why he would do this," Santos said.

Other neighbors say the man was recently evicted from his apartment and may have done it on purpose. The damage from the fire and explosion was visible inside neighboring apartments.

"I'm just glad no body got hurt," Santos said.

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