Arlington home explosion intentionally caused by homeowner, officials say

Fire investigators determined that a massive explosion that destroyed an Arlington duplex in December 2023 was intentionally caused by the homeowner who died in the blast.

Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined Arlington County police and fire departments to release their investigative findings in a report on Friday.

The briefing detailed the incident beginning with the first officer’s arrival to the scene. The findings also released body-worn camera video showing new angles of the explosion and of the suspect, 56-year-old James Yoo, firing flares from his window.

The blast originated in the basement of the home and involved gasoline and a "competent ignition source," officials said, adding "munitions used by police during this incident are verified not to be a competent ignition source."  

Items recovered from the scene included gasoline canisters, two shotguns, a firearm, two flare guns, shotgun magazines, loose shotgun rounds, and fired and unfired flares, according to the findings.

Yoo’s death was determined to be caused by "thermal injuries and blunt force trauma," the report says.

Image 1 of 16

Images taken from video footage released by authorities detailing the events that led to the December 2023 home explosion in Arlington.

READ MORE: Arlington home explosion captured on video by neighbors: 'The place just erupted'

Neighbors said Yoo had been acting erratically in the months leading up to the incident. He allegedly ordered large quantities of bleach and charcoal prior to the explosion and covered his windows in black trash bags. The morning of the incident, he threw trash, including empty bleach bottles, onto his lawn. 

Later that day, he began firing flares out of the back window of his duplex, one of which landed near an elementary school. Police investigated the scene and attempted to make contact with Yoo verbally and via phone, with no success.

Police obtained a search warrant and subsequently breached his front door with an armored vehicle. As officers reached the door of the home, officials say Yoo fired multiple gunshots from within the house.

Authorities said they turned off gas service to the home and evacuated nearby residents about 90 minutes before the explosion. 

READ MORE: Who is James Yoo? Investigation into suspect behind Arlington home explosion continues

This is a developing story. Stay with us for updates.