Man Sets Self Ablaze at California City Hall

Police evacuated Long Beach City Hall on Thursday afternoon after a man doused himself with gasoline, then set himself on fire in front of the information desk of the building's lobby.

It wasn't the scene of the man's act of self-mutilation that triggered the evacuation, but a suspicious package found by officers responding to the incident, police and firefighters said.

The package looked like a shopping bag, said Capt. Mike Duree of the Long Beach Fire Department, and was later deemed harmless.

Paramedics took the injured man in critical condition to St. Mary Medical Center with first- and second-degree burns, Duree said.

He was identified as 50-year-old Haouy Nguyen of Fountain Valley.

Authorities did not know why he set himself on fire.

Paramedics also transported a security guard who was burned as he tried to smother the flames, firefighters said.

At a press conference outside City Hall, Mayor Bob Foster said counseling support had been called for distraught city employees who had witnessed the scene.

City employees were sent home early for the day.

The incident occurred about 3:30 p.m. inside the 14-story municipal building at 333 W. Ocean Blvd.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Bomb Squad was called in to dismantle the package.

While police and bomb squad officials investigated, Ocean Boulevard was shut down on both directions between Magnolia and Pacific Avenue, Sgt. Dina Zapalski said.

Staff writers Samantha Gonzaga and Leslie Anne Jones contributed to this report.