2012-01-03 / World

L.A. arson spree calms following man’s arrest

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It was another night of firefighters scrambling across the nation’s second largest city to snuff out a series of arson attacks when a tip came in about a German man who matched the description of someone with a shoulderlength ponytail captured on a surveillance video near where a car fire was reported.

Five hours later Harry Burkhart was pulled over by a reserve sheriff ’s deputy who works for $1 a year and later booked for investigation of arson of an inhabited dwelling. Since the arrest, firefighters have not responded to any other suspicious fires.

While the investigation is ongoing — authorities haven’t ruled out the possibility that others may be involved — Burkhart’s arrest was a measure of relief to anxious residents who had grown fearful after several nights of seemingly random blazes.

“Our long four-day nightmare is over,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

Police declined to reveal any motive for more than 50 fires that have occurred since Friday in Hollywood, neighboring West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley, causing about $3 million in damage.

Return to top