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Was Black Family Targeted In 'Suspicious' Manhattan Beach Fire?

MANHATTAN BEACH ( — Authorities Thursday were investigating a "suspicious" fire at a South Bay home while the family who lives there wondered if they were targeted.

The fire was reported at 2:15 a.m. Wednesday in the 700 block of 11th Street in Manhattan Beach, the Manhattan Beach Fire Department said.

The family is black and moved into the home about a year ago.

The family was asleep inside the home, but was awakened by their barking dog and smoke detectors. They were able to get out of the house safely.

Homeowner Ron Clinton said someone left a burning tire at their front door.

"They used an accelerant to ignite it," said Clinton. "All I know is that when I woke up, I woke up to a loud blast."

"The fire was extinguished and found to be confined to the front entrance, with significant smoke damage to the second and third floor," officials said.

The fire caused more than $200,000 in smoke damage to the home.

A motive has yet to be determined, but Clinton, a married father of three, says the family has had other incidents.

"We have no reason why," Clinton said, "to explain why this would happen to us. There's no beef with anyone."

Clinton said someone a few months ago placed drug paraphernalia on their front door; people have also left trash and large items.

By phone, Ron's wife Malissia, said the family was targeted and this was a hate crime.

"I would normally agree with my wife," Clinton said, "but there is no hard evidence. We don't know who could have done it. But being we are the only African-American family in that area, it was brought to my front door and it feels like it's personal."

Some neighbors said they believed the Clintons were the target of a hate crime.

Anyone with information regarding the investigation should call Fire Investigator Mike Murrey at (310)345-0467. Anonymous tips can also be called into Crime Stoppers (800) 222-TIPS.

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