January 2, 2012 / 12:20 AM / 6 years ago

Police arrest man in string of Los Angeles fires

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Police arrested a man on Monday in connection with a wave of 53 arson fires targeting cars and structures, which caused more than $2 million in damages and left nerves in the second-largest U.S. city badly frayed.

Los Angeles county sheriff's department detain a man they described as a "person of interest" in in West Hollywood, January 2, 2012. The man was being questioned in connection with as many as 55 arson fires, most started in cars, in a spree that began on Thursday, Los Angeles Fire Department said on Monday. REUTERS/Gene Blevins

Police declined to identify the man but said he was taken into custody in Hollywood early Monday morning after a sheriff’s deputy spotted him driving a van similar to one being sought in connection with the fires.

Los Angeles City Fire Department Captain Jamie Moore said at a press briefing the suspect resembled a “person of interest” caught on surveillance videotape near several of the arsons.

That person was described by police as a male with a light complexion wearing dark clothing and a ponytail.

Authorities declined to discuss the arrest in further detail but said they would release more information at a late-afternoon press conference.

Los Angeles county sheriff's department detain a man they described as a "person of interest", in West Hollywood, January 2, 2012. The man was being questioned in connection with as many as 55 arson fires, most started in cars, in a spree that began on Thursday, Los Angeles Fire Department said on Monday. REUTERS/Gene Blevins

The man was taken into custody after a series of fires broke out in cars and structures in Hollywood and surrounding areas.

Most of the fires were thought to have been started by the same arsonist in cars and some spread to carports and homes.

Slideshow (4 Images)

“Our task force is continuing. We are continuing to work around the clock,” Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith said. “We are not stopping. We are going to continue through the night.”

He asked that residents keep a sharp eye out for suspicious activity and “remain vigilant” despite the arrest.

One firefighter was treated for injuries suffered at the site of a blaze over the weekend and another person suffered smoke inhalation on New Year’s Eve.

One of the fires damaged a house in the Hollywood Hills where late rocker Jim Morrison was inspired to write the 1968 song “Love Street” about his girlfriend.

Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Mary Slosson; Editing by Greg McCune and Todd Eastham

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