Police Question ‘Person of Interest’ in Los Angeles Arson Fires


Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Shortly after the last of at least 11 fires set in the Los Angeles area Sunday night was extinguished, police took into custody a person of interest who was detained close to the scene of at least one blaze.

ABC News has learned from two sources that there may have been an incendiary device in a mini-van parked near the scene of the blaze, and then cordoned off by police.

Arson investigators and sheriff deputies swarmed the scene where the man—said to resemble the person in a surveillance video released Sunday by Los Angeles police—was stopped and detained.

He is the fourth person detained in connection with the tidal wave of arson fires that has engulfed the city since Dec. 30.

“We currently have a person of interest that they [detectives] are interviewing,” Capt. Jaime Moore, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman said Monday on Good Morning America.

Authorities Sunday distributed DVDs of a 20- to 30-year-old white male caught on surveillance video Saturday leaving an underground parking structure on Hollywood Boulevard where a car fire was reported.

Officials asked for the public’s help in identifying the man, now wanted for questioning in connection with the 55 fires that have been set since Thursday.

Detectives estimated the man, who has a receding hairline and is seen in the video wearing a bulky jacket, is between 5-foot-6 and 6-foot-1.

Police Sunday also acknowledged they know of at least two other people who might be involved in the fires. Capt. Moore declined to say whether the person detectives are interviewing is the same man seen on the surveillance video.

“It’s still too early to speculate whether or not this is the same person,” he told GMA. “It’s always a possibility that it could be just one individual, but we also have to look at the possibility of this being the work of more than one.”

The fires have remained clustered in the areas of Hollywood and North Hollywood but, overnight, the arsons expanded to the San Fernando Valley. Capt. Moore confirmed Monday that 10 of the fires set overnight Sunday were in Los Angeles, while two were in West Hollywood.

Police have not yet released details on how the car fires were sparked or what information they have collected at the scenes as they continue to search for suspects.

In nearly every case, the fires were set overnight. So far, there have been no injuries as a result of the fires.

Officials are offering a $60,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information is urged to call 911.

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