LOS ANGELES — Authorities arrested a man Monday in connection with dozens of suspected arson fires that have rattled Los Angeles residents since last week.
A sheriff’s deputy stopped the driver of a van early Monday in Hollywood. The vehicle matched a description by witnesses, and the driver resembled the person in a surveillance video that police released.
Police declined to identify the suspect, but said he was arrested in connection with 53 fires, many of them started in parked cars, that have flared since Friday in Hollywood, neighbouring West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.
The man was to be booked later on arson charges.
The blazes, which destroyed cars and scorched apartment buildings, caused an estimated $2 million in damage, city fire Capt. Jamie Moore said.
The suspect resembled a “person of interest” captured on videotape near a carport, Moore said.
Authorities declined to provide other details, saying they did not want to jeopardize the case.
Hundreds of investigators, police officers and firefighters raced to deal with the rash of fires over the New Year’s weekend. Police were kept on overtime, and in Hollywood, the noise of helicopters and sirens continued virtually nonstop.
Investigators still were busy mapping out the sequence of the blazes, examining more than 100 clues and interviewing witnesses.
Firefighters routinely are called to put out burning cars, but this recent spate has been unusual. Crews have continued to respond to other emergencies.
The fires left a trail of smouldering debris in Hollywood, West Hollywood, North Hollywood and the Fairfax district of Los Angeles.
Police urged residents to check their cars for any signs of tampering and take simple precautions such as locking vehicles, keeping garage and carport lights on at night and reporting suspicious activity.
Despite the arrest, police continued to be vigilant.
“We’re not resting, and we’re not stopping” the extra patrols, police Capt. Andrew Smith said. “If you have lights in your carport area, keep them on tonight.”