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L.A. arson suspect Harry Burkhart probed in German fire

January 4, 2012 |  8:37 am

Harry Burkhart

As authorities probe more than 50 fires over the last week, they are also looking for any links between the suspect arrested Monday and any similar arson cases in Germany.

The suspect, Harry Burkhart, is a German national. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has reported to local officials that Burkhart is the subject of at least one arson investigation in Germany, law enforcement sources told The Times. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is still open.

The Associated Press reported that Burkhart, who is from Frankfurt, is a suspect in a fire in the city's Marburg district in October that burned a home owned by his family. Burkhart filed an insurance claim on the home, German prosecutors told the AP.

FULL COVERAGE: Southland arson fires

Burkhart lived with his mother, Dorothee, and often traveled with her. It's unclear when he was last in Germany.

Victoria Nuland, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, said it was also unclear how the Burkharts had gained entry to the United States. Federal immigration officials said they believed Harry Burkhart was in the United States with a legal visa due to expire in two weeks. But authorities could not find a visa file for Dorothee Burkhart.

A court document indicates that Dorothee Burkhart was in Frankfurt as recently as October before flying into Las Vegas and accompanying her son to the German Consulate in Los Angeles to renew his passport. But immigration officials said Tuesday that the court document is incorrect and that the last time she entered the country was in 2007.

Burkhart is accused of setting more than 50 fires in and around the Hollywood area. He was booked on suspicion of arson but has not been charged by prosecutors.

Police say they found fire-starting material in his minivan when he was arrested Monday.

Burkhart is expected to appear in court Wednesday.

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-- Richard Winton

Photo: Harry Burkhart being arrested Monday. Credit: KTLA

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