Los Angeles police say they have detained a man as "a person of interest" in a rash of car fires that now number 55 after more than two hours of new fires that started at 1 a.m. Monday.
The man was taken into custody at Sunset Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, said Los Angeles Fire Capt. Jaime Moore, while police and sheriff's deputies manned another perimeter near the Beverly Center in West Hollywood. Witnesses said the suspect was driving a minivan with British Columbia license plates.
A citywide tactical alert was canceled after the last of 16 early morning fires were put out about 3:30 a.m. Teams of fire trucks dashed from fire to fire to quickly douse the flames.
Locations included carports in: the 1700 block of Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Hollywood; 8500 block Eastwood Road, Hollywood Hills; 4300 block of North Greenbush Avenue and 15000 block of Moorpark Street, Sherman Oaks; and 500 block of Alfred Street, West Hollywood.
A video journalist reported the owner of the burning car on Moorpark tried to drive his car to put out the flames, before realizing the danger involved.
The detainment of the "person of interest" came just hours after police and fire authorities released surveillance video of a person seen at several of the locations where the
The man in the video is seen coming from an underground parking structure on Hollywood Boulevard between Orange Drive and Sycamore Avenue. He is dressed in all black, between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet 2 inches tall and has a distinctive gait, officials said. The man, believed to be in his late 20s to early 30s, has a receding hairline and dark hair worn in a ponytail.
Witness reports and video footage indicate the man was at several of the locations where arson fires were set, said Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Mike Moriarty.
Investigators said at least two people were believed to be involved in the arson fires, for which no motive has yet been determined.
Moriarty said the "person of interest" is in custody, but the fires continued even after that arrest.
A total of 55 fires "of concern" have broken out in the Los Angeles area between Dec. 30, 2011 to today, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott. Forty-five fires have been in Los Angeles, nine in West Hollywood and one was in Burbank.
-City News Service contributed to this report.