‘Hostile’ Resident Arrested Following Arson Attempt in Downtown High Rise

arson at high rise

Photo courtesy of LBFD.

A 52-year-old man was booked for arson after allegedly setting his apartment on fire and barricading himself in a downtown high rise Monday night, forcing some residents to evacuate and police to send in a SWAT team, authorities said.

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Richard Vanuum, of Long Beach, was taken into custody without incident and hospitalized for fire-related injuries after an hours-long standoff with authorities. He was booked for arson, obstruction and for an outstanding failure to appear warrant, according to Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) spokeswoman Nancy Pratt. His bail is set at $250,687.

The incident began at about 9:51PM when Long Beach fire units encountered a “hostile individual” when they responded to a manual pull fire alarm on the building’s sixth floor, Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) officials said. Fire personnel then requested assistance from Long Beach police about 10 minutes later when Vanuum allegedly “threatened to light a fire and burn down the building” and barricaded himself, fire officials said.

Responding officers were also told Vanuum may have armed himself with a weapon, and upon arrival, found smoke coming out of his apartment, Pratt said. After failed attempts to make contact with the uncooperative man, and believing he set a fire within his apartment and may have been armed, the police department’s SWAT team was then activated.

SWAT personnel were able to make an entry and take the suspect into custody without incident, according to Pratt. Due to injuries he sustained from the fire, Vanuum was then transported to a local hospital for treatment and remains hospitalized, Pratt said. No other injuries were reported.

During the incident, some residents were forced to evacuate the building and nearby roads were closed, including Ocean Boulevard from Magnolia to Pacific avenues, and Chestnut Place from Seaside Way to Pine Avenue.

Authorities said the apartment sustained moderate damage and LBFD’s arson unit is investigating the incident.

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