Video: LA arson suspect arrested

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/2/2012 10:45:08 PM ET 2012-01-03T03:45:08

A man suspected in a series of arson fires in the Los Angeles area was arrested Monday, officials said.

Harry Burkhart, 24, was booked for investigation of arson of an inhabited dwelling and was being held without bail, authorities said.

"We expect as the investigation continues, he will face additional charges," Villaraigosa said at a news conference.

"I feel very good that we've got the right guy,'' NBCLosAngeles.com quoted L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck as saying. "(The suspect) had the right stuff in his van, and we are very confident we found our man.''

The man was driving when he was stopped by a sheriff's deputy who felt his van resembled one seen in security video.

Burkhart has been involved in a dispute with federal immigration officials over the immigration status of his mother, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Eleven of the blazes 53 happened overnight at carports and garages, said L.A. Fire Department spokesman Capt. Jaime Moore.

"The last one was in West Hollywood," he told told the LA Times, which reported that the first of the latest round of fires broke out shortly after 1:30 a.m. PT at apartment carports in the Laurel Canyon and Hollywood areas.

The suspect was detained hours after Los Angeles police released video of a man who they said witnesses and security video footage placed at several locations where the fires started.

He was seen on video Saturday after emerging on foot from inside an underground parking structure on Hollywood Boulevard where a car fire was reported.

Most of the fires started in cars and some spread to carports and homes.

'Dozens of witnesses'
Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said dozens of detectives had worked through the night to gather evidence and sift through clues.

"We've reassigned dozens of detectives," Smith said. "Those detectives are now working together around the clock... We've got hundreds of clues, dozens of witnesses, and countless pieces of evidence," he added.

No one has been seriously hurt, but a firefighter was treated and released for injuries suffered at the site of one blaze over the weekend and another person suffered minor injuries on New Year's Eve.

One of the fires damaged a house in the Hollywood Hills, where The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison was inspired to write the 1968 song "Love Street" about his girlfriend Pam Courson and what was then a hippie hangout.

Unusual spate of fires
Firefighters routinely are called to put out burning cars, but this recent spate has been unusual because of the frequency and location of the fires. Crews have been responding to other emergencies despite the focus on solving the fire arsons, fire spokesman Erik Scott said.

Police urged residents to check their cars for any signs of tampering and take simple precautions such as locking their cars, keeping garage and carport lights on at night and reporting suspicious activity.

Msnbc.com staff, Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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