Suspect arrested over Hollywood arson spree

Los Angeles police arrested a suspect over a spree of more than 50 arson attacks which kept Hollywood on edge over the New Year’s holiday, officials said Monday, after a fourth night of fires.

The man, described as a “person of interest,” was taken into custody on Sunset Boulevard, although it was unclear if he matched the description of a suspect caught on security video which was released by police on Sunday.

The announcement came after 16 new fires during a roughly two-hour period in the early hours of Monday, taking the total number of apparently deliberately-set blazes to 55 over the last four nights.

It was unclear exactly when the suspect was arrested, but Los Angeles Police commander Mike Moriarty said fires continued after he was detained, implying that the arson threat has not been removed.

Federal investigators have been called in to help the probe of the string of arson attacks, one of the worst crime sprees in the city since the 1992 race riots.

Police on Sunday asked residents to leave their porch and car port lights on overnight, after some 40 fires were set over three nights including New Year’s Eve.

A suspect caught on camera after a blaze in a parking lot near Hollywood’s main tourist area is believed to be in his late 20s to early 30s, has a receding hairline and dark hair worn in a ponytail, police said.

Amateur video published by the Los Angeles Times newspaper caught the blaze in the basement of the Hollywood and Highland center, near Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where tourists flock to see celebrity handprints and the Walk of Fame stars.

Moriarty said Sunday that it was believed there were at least two arsonists.

One suspect had already been arrested, police said: a 22-year-old man, Samuel Arrington, charged with starting three fires on Thursday. But he was behind bars overnight Friday and Saturday when new blazes were set.

Most of the arson attacks have targeted cars either outside homes on in car ports under buildings, which then caught alight. No serious injuries have so far been reported, although one firefighter was injured.

Damaged property included a Hollywood Hills home where singer Jim Morrison of The Doors — whose hits include “Light My Fire” — once lived, and where he wrote the legendary band’s “Love Street.”

City and county officials, along with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF), have posted a reward of $60,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

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