SOUTH EL MONTE — A South El Monte man was behind bars Friday on suspicion of using gasoline to burn and badly damage the vacant house next door, authorities said.
Steven Agredano, 43, was booked on suspicion of arson, Detective Ed Nordskog of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Unit said.
He was drunk and apparently suffering from psychological problems about 1:30 p.m. Thursday when he carried out the alleged arson in the 10000 block of Weaver Avenue, sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Harris said.
Agredano broke the window of a house next door to his own, poured gasoline inside and set the home ablaze, Nordskog said.
“He claims to have been hearing voices threatening him from inside the vacant house,” Nordskog added.
The home was recently vacated when the resident died, and was believed to be in the process of being transferred to the owner’s heirs, officials said. It was not clear of the home had valid insurance.
After lighting the fire, Nordskog said, Agredano told family members that he had burned the house next door.
Family members were shocked by his behavior and worried about him, the detective added.
Agredano had left the area by the time deputies arrived, but returned to the scene while detectives were still investigating, Nordskog said.
Upon further investigation, he added, officials learned that Agredano had filled a gasoline can at a nearby gas station about half an hour before the fire.
While he has not had an official diagnosis, Nordskog said, Agredano’s behavior indicated he likely has psychological problems.
About a third of the home was destroyed, resulting in $150,000 to $200,000 worth of damage, officials said.
According to county booking records, Agredano was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail at the sheriff’s Temple Station pending his initial court appearance.