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Fountain Valley Man Gets 33 Years for Setting Motel Explosion

It's Thanh Van Quang's fifth conviction in a long life of crime.

Booking photo of Thanh Van Quang, who received a 33-year prison sentence for starting an explosion in a motel. Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Booking photo of Thanh Van Quang, who received a 33-year prison sentence for starting an explosion in a motel. Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Originally posted at 12:23 p.m. Feb. 28, 2014. Updated with new information. 

A Fountain Valley man was sentenced to 33 years to life in prison for setting off an explosion in his motel room with a canister of gasoline.

The October conviction of Thanh Van Quang,39, marks the fifth strike against him in a life of crime that dates back to 1998, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

On Nov. 30, 2012, Quang quarreled with the manager at Pueblo Motel in Santa Ana about Quang inviting guests into his own motel room, according to a D.A. press release. An hour or so later, Quang walked to a nearby gas station, purchased a gasoline canister, and filled it with one gallon of gasoline before he returned to the motel.

“At approximately 4 p.m., Quang caused an explosion in his motel room, which started a fire that damaged his room and neighboring rooms,” according to the release. “Quang was captured on surveillance removing several items from his room prior to the explosion.”

A jury convicted him of one felony count each of arson of an inhabited property and possession of a flammable material with sentencing enhancements for arson with use of an accelerant, the release states.

"Revenge, that's it," Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz said in describing Quang's motive for setting off the Nov. 30, 2012, explosion that caused a fire at the Pueblo Motel at 1501 N. Harbor Blvd.

"He got furious at the manager for evicting him," Katz said.

The defendant has four prior convictions from 1998 for voluntary manslaughter, assault with a firearm, and two felony counts of robbery. In addition to his prison sentence, Quang was ordered to pay more than $177,000 in restitution.

Quang's attorney, Charles Hasse of the Orange County Public Defender's Office, argued his client did not "maliciously" set off the explosion. He said a pilot light for a wall furnace sparked the "flash fire."

--City News Service contributed to this report.

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