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Looters preying on fire evacuees

November 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Two women were arrested on suspicion of looting the Porter Ranch home of a man who was evacuating because of the Sayre Fire that jumped the Golden State (5) Freeway Saturday morning, police said. The man left his home in the 11800 block of Stewarton Drive about 12:35 p.m. Saturday, then returned because he was not sure if he had closed his patio door. Upon his return, he found two women removing his personal property, said Los Angeles police Lt. Jim Fetzer of the Devonshire Station.

The man told police that the women -- a 19-year-old from North Hollywood and a 32-year-old from Sherman Oaks -- were stacking his property outside the house and carrying them to a green four-door Infinity, Fetzer said.

Among the items being taken were jewelry, clothing, purses, video games and spare keys, he said.

When the man asked the women what they were doing, they claimed they were looking for someone, Fetzer said.

Officers patrolling the area saw the man confronting the women and arrested the women, he said.

Police believe the women may have burglarized other homes in the area and were continuing to investigate, he said.

The women, whose names were withheld, were locked up in the Van Nuys Jail, he said.

Five suspected looters have been arrested by Los Angeles police.

The Sayre fire started about 10:30 p.m. Friday along Sayre Street north of the Foothill (210) Freeway in Sylmar and began hop-scotching because of wind gusts of up to 80 mph, eventually spreading over some 8,000 acres.

The fire has injured at least six people, forced more than 10,000 to flee and destroyed some 500 mobile homes -- the worst fire destruction in Los Angeles in 47 years.

Early today, the blaze was only 20 percent contained, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

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