L.A. arson wave grows to about 40 fires; most since 1992 riots
With about 40 arson fires across Los Angeles in the last three days, the wave of intentional blazes that started in Hollywood on Friday is the worst since the 1992 riots, officials said.
Authorities said they remained unsure whether the fires were the work of one arsonist or several people, perhaps including copycats. Although the majority of the fires have occurred in the Hollywood area, some also were reported in the San Fernando Valley, Westside and as far south as Lennox near the 105 Freeway.
At least four new fires were reported on New Year's Eve, including one caught on tape at the Hollywood & Highland shopping center on Hollywood Boulevard.
Firefighters responded after 7 p.m. to a report that a car inside the Hollywood & Highland parking deck was on fire, said Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Brian Humphrey. By the time they arrived, the fire was out, but a suspect's image may have been captured by one of the structure's video cameras. Police were broadcasting a description of a white man in his mid-30s with a receding hairline and a ponytail.
In West Hollywood, Los Angeles County firefighters were called to 1035 N. Sweetzer Avenue around 8:30 p.m. They found an apartment house carport with two vehicles ablaze and spent 25 minutes dousing the flames, said Don Kunitomi, an on-scene fire inspector.
"Whoever is doing this is really messing with people's lives," said Fire Capt. Jamie Moore.
Two fires were also reported in Glendale on Saturday night, but it was unclear whether they were linked to the serial arson cases.
Another fire was reported on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood early Sunday morning, but officials could not immediately say whether it was linked.
Most of the blazes were started on automobiles, with some spreading to buildings. By Saturday night, the Los Angeles police and fire departments were leading a multiagency campaign across the county.
"We're pulling out all the stops," Humphrey said. "We're hoping that the person or people responsible will be brought to swift and complete justice."
-- Andrew Blankstein and Catherine Saillant
Map: Shows locations of recent arson fires. Click on map for more information, including a key. Credit: Los Angeles Times