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An early morning fire on June 13, 2019 gutted a framed structure between 8th and 10th Street on The Strand in Hermosa Beach. (Photo by Lisa Jacobs)

After viewing surveillance video, a 50-year-old La Quinta man was arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with the early Thursday morning fire of a Hermosa Beach home that was under construction, – and police have released a 27-year-old man originally suspected of starting the blaze, authorities said.

Keith Yessner was arrested just before 10:30 p.m. Thursday in the 1600 block of Beach Drive, Sgt. Mark Gaglia said.

Late Thursday morning, the city had announced 27-year-old Michael Christopher Kotva as the suspect. He was spotted near the scene and police had taken him into custody, but he was released after being questioned by police and was not going to be charged, Gaglia said. Jail records show he was released just before 8:30 p.m.

The fire, which started before 2 a.m. in the 800 block of The Strand, also damaged four other residential buildings. The fire displaced six people, and one firefighter suffered minor injuries.

Firefighters from various agencies put out the fire in about an hour, but not before it caused significant damage to the home under construction and at least one neighboring home.

Neighbors reported seeing a man inside the beachfront structure walk out just as the fire ignited, Gaglia said.

Police obtained surveillance video from nearby residential buildings and recognized the arson suspect as Yessner, Gaglia said. Officers searched throughout the city and located him, arresting him without incident, Gaglia said.

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