Skip to main content

LA’s New Year’s arsonist arrested

The first arrest has been made in Los Angeles thought to be the person responsible for 50 different incidents of setting vehicles on fire, some spreading to nearby structures, now estimated to have caused $2 million in damage. So far, no one has been injured in the incidents caused by the New Year’s arsonist. A reward of $60,000 has been set for information leading to the capture and prosecution of the perpetrators.
Posted: January 1, 2012 - 7:02PM
Author: Don Bain

The incidents began overnight Friday, when cars parked on the street or in carports were set aflame in North Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, Valley Glen and Sun Valley, according to a post by the LA Daily New staff on Mercury News this morning. An additional blaze was set early Saturday in Burbank.

the total number of suspected incidents is reported to be to over 50 since Thursday, according to a report by the Associated Press on Denver'd The suspect resembles a "person of interest" captured on surveillance. The 20 to 30 years old man has a receding hairline and a shoulder-length ponytail and is expected to be charged with over 60 counts of arson. .

At least six more cars were set ablaze Saturday night, despite a massive deployment of fire department and police personnel. So far the police have not named any specific suspects, but are following all video feeds from the incidents and have opened a round the clock hotline for tips.

"We're pulling out all the stops," said Brian Humphrey, a fire department spokesman. "We're hoping that the person or people responsible will be brought to swift and complete justice."

Still it remains unknown if the fires are the work of a single individual, a group or involve copycat behavior.

Sheila Kirk lives in a building next to the Hollywood freeway where four cars were burned, according to an Associated Press report on Fox News. Though she lives several miles away from the site of Friday’s fires, she was awakened before dawn when the New Year’s arson reached her neighborhood.

"We'd heard all about the fires in Hollywood and West Hollywood, then we heard what sounded like a giant hose and ran downstairs and found everything burning," Kirk said. Her own car’s bumper was partially melted a full 30 feet from one of the blazing hot vehicles. "It looks like they chose the spot where the cars were bunched together so they could do the most damage. Thank God no one got hurt."

One of the structures damaged in the arson spree was the former home of famed Door’s vocalist Jim Morrison, in Laurel Canyon.

Yesterday morning, a single incendiary act set afire eight vehicles, damaged six others, decimated a carport and significantly damaged a nearby apartment building, 25 miles south in an unincorporated part of Los Angeles.

I'm not going to speak anything about the type of devices," said Pat Butler, an assistant Los Angeles fire chief. "We do believe we have incendiary, intentional fires that result in auto fires that result in apartment fires."

Later yesterday police stated they believe the fires are being set with Molotov cocktails, thrown by someone in a car or on a motorcycle. They are reportedly searching for a man driving a mid-1990s white-and-tan Lexus ES300 and a green-and-black American muscle car also spotted near the fires.The man arrested today was dring a van, which was reported later and matched a video image from a parking garage set ablaze.

At this time no information is available on what types of cars are being targeted if any. In October, Torque News reported the capture of an automotive arsonist in Berlin who was targeting luxury cars in a fit of bourgeoisie envy.

Authorities state no fires have been set since the man was taken into custody, so if any copycats were involved, they are playing it smart so far. LA is breathing a sigh of relief tonight.

To see the video from Denver 9News, click here