Smoke rises from a Kyoto Animation Co. studio in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward on July 18. (Provided by a resident)

KYOTO--Thirty-three people were killed and 17 others remain hospitalized after a suspected arsonist set fire to a three-story animation studio here on July 18, police and fire department officials said.

Some of the 36 people injured in the fire were unconscious, according to Kyoto prefectural police.

The studio, operated by Kyoto Animation Co., is located in a residential area in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward about 100 meters north of Rokujizo Station on Keihan Electric Railway Co.’s Uji Line. There were about 70 people in the studio at the time.

Several neighbors called the fire department around 10:35 a.m. after they heard an explosion and saw smoke rising from the building. Thirty-five firetrucks were dispatched to the scene.

Police detained a 41-year-old man who is believed to have spread a flammable liquid in the area. Witnesses said he ran into the building screaming, “Die.”

He was injured in the incident and remains unconcious at a hospital.

A 61-year-old woman in the neighborhood said she initially mistook the suspect for a victim of the blaze.

She said she opened the front entrance to her home after the interphone sounded and found a large man kneeling on the ground. Both of his arms had burns and his right leg was on fire. His hair appeared singed.

The woman asked the weakened man if he was all right, but he did not respond. She used a hose to pour water on the man.

As she waited for an ambulance, a number of police officers surrounded the man and peppered him with questions about how he entered the studio and why he set it on fire, she said.

The woman said she could not catch much of what the man said, but she did clearly hear him shout, “They ripped me off.”

A woman in her 20s who works nearby said she went outside after hearing the explosion around 10:30 a.m. When she approached the burning building, she saw a man apparently in his 20s trying to escape along a support on the outer wall on the second story.

The woman and a co-worker brought a ladder to the building to help the man reach the ground.

The head of a local taxi company’s branch near the site said two men ran into the office around 10:40 a.m. and asked that the fire department be called.

One of the men was assisting the other, whose clothes were badly burned. The branch chief tried to support the two while they waited for an ambulance to arrive.

A 22-year-old man said he heard two or three explosions and saw black smoke emerging from a first-floor window. He said flames could be seen in many of the building’s windows.

Kyoto Animation has produced a number of popular TV anime series, such as “K-On!,” “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and “Sound! Euphonium.”

Although many major animation companies are located in the Tokyo area, Kyoto Animation has kept its base of operations in the ancient capital since its founding in 1981 because the city has accumulated a long cultural history, company officials said.

Much of the work on the company’s TV programs and movies is done in Kyoto.