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Detectives 'getting close' to finding L.A. arsonist, police say

January 2, 2012 |  2:46 am

Officials say they hope the release of an image of a "person of interest" in the string of Hollywood-area arson fires brings them closer to solving the case
Officials say they hope the release of an image of a "person of interest" in the string of Hollywood-area arson fires brings them closer to solving the case.

"Obviously we're getting close," Los Angeles Police Capt. David Perez said Sunday evening, watching a bank of televisions in the command center flash images of the man sought by authorities. "We all just want this to end."

At a news conference Sunday evening, officials announced what may be a break in the case -- images of a light-skinned man in his late 20s to mid-30s, between 5-foot-8 and 6-foot2, with a dark ponytail and receding hairline whom authorities described as a "person of interest."

The video image, captured Friday just before 7 p.m., shows a man dressed in black walking hurriedly with an odd gait out of a Hollywood parking structure. Within minutes, a fire was reported in the area. Officials said they believe that the same man appears in a separate video that they did not release.

MAP: Arson fires

Faced with an elusive fire-starter moving over shifting territory, authorities are trying to anticipate where in the vast Los Angeles area the arsonist may strike next. It is a cat-and-mouse game played out over a broad landscape from the eastern San Fernando Valley to West Hollywood.

As of 9:30 p.m. Sunday, no new arsons had been reported.

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-- Victoria Kim

Photo: Images taken from a video show a "person of interest" in the recent arson fires. Credit: KTLA

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