fire on the street

Firefighters use the ladder truck to access the roof while fighting the blaze at Dogz.

Long Beach Fire officials said Wednesday that a third juvenile had been arrested in connection to a series of fires in Naples and Belmont Shore, and added that all three teenagers were being charged in the fire last week that destroyed the interior of Dogz Bar and Grill in Belmont Shore.

Two 14-year-olds were arrested Saturday afternoon for a series of fires, including one at Naples Elementary School. LBFD spokesman Jake Heflin said Wednesday in a release that the Long Beach Fire Department Fire Investigations Team and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Arson Unit Task Force had been cooperating in an investigation for weeks. The third teenager, also 14, lives in Naples and was arrested Tuesday.

All three teens were being held at the Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall. The identities were not released due to the suspects' age.

As additional warrants were served and searches conducted, investigators linked all three suspects to fires that included the June 12 three-alarm fire at Dogz Bar and Grill where a firefighter sustained second degree burns to both hands, Heflin said. The teens were charged with starting five fires —  three trash fires with one fire that damaged a fence, one palm tree fire, and the fire at Dogz Bar and Grill where conservative damage estimates are at $160,000.

Investigation is continuing into a sixth fire at Naples Elementary School. All six of these fires are listed as incendiary and were deliberately set between June 12th and June 16.

Owners of Dogz said Monday in a Facebook post that they believed the people who set the fire had been caught.

"According to detectives, the 3 suspects had already caused multiple fires in recent days throughout the east Long Beach area and they had already had a very active investigation going," the post said. "It doesn't change what happened, but it is comforting to know that hopefully they will be brought to justice so they can't do any further damage."

The Dogz fire was set around 5 a.m. Tuesday morning and quickly grew to a three-alarm blaze. Owners said that they were close to final inspections and a reopening after being closed since January 2017.

"The fire department was very responsive and had the fire out within 30-45 minutes. However, the huge amount of water that was used once again caused extensive water damage," the Dogz Facebook post said. "After setting aside all the grief, sadness, anger etc. of knowing all the hard work had paid off and we were going to re-open in just days, we cannot change what happened… The property owner is 100% committed to rebuilding so that DOGZ can reopen ASAP. The city is also being very supportive to assist in any way they can to eliminate any delays."

The fire department asked that anyone with information about the fires in or around Belmont Shore and Naples call investigators at (562) 570-2582.

NOTE: This story was updated Wednesday evening to reflect the third arrest and the charges involving the Dogz fire.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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